City Scenes


“All great art is born of the metropolis.” —Ezra Pound

Different from the urban panoramas of cityscapes, these works capture glimpses of urban life, from photographs of commuters in subway cars to abstract compositions of architectural elements. Depictions of city life became a popular subject in the late 19th century for Impressionists like Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte, who painted the burgeoning Paris street life that developed with the expansion of Paris’s boulevards and the placement of gas lamps along streets. In the early 1900s the Ashcan School painters, followed by Edward Hopper, created realist works illustrating American modern life in New York City. Mid 20th-century street photographers like Garry Winogrand and Helen Levitt used their medium to document the diverse people, vibrant street signs, moving cars, and crowded crosswalks that give life to a city.

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