Untitled (Empire State Building)
Robert Moskowitz ( American, 1935 - 2001 )
Robert Moskowitz has blended the border between literalness and abstraction since the 1960s. In the 1970s, he became a prominent leader of the New Image movement (from the Whitney Museum's 1978 exhibition "New Image Painting"). Following a decade dominated by minimalism, this group of artists, which included Nicholas Africano, Neil Jenney, and Susan Rothenberg, brought back figural imagery as a vital formal tool as well as a psychologically charged instrument.
Moskowitz is interested in architectural structures as a means to explore the balance between abstraction and representation. In the 1970s he created "rooms," an arrangement of doorways, corners, and beams on a single color field, which relates to American precisionism, most notably the work of Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, Moskowitz began to create epic-scale works of Western cultural and popular icons — Auguste Rodin's Thinker, Constantin Brancusi's Bird, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the Flatiron Building—as well as smokestacks and lighthouses. These concise, familiar images on elusive, textured backgrounds reveal Moskowitz's connections to both pop art and abstract expressionism.
Tall and thin, the iconic Empire State Building appears to rise endlessly against a dark background. It contains a wonderful tension between surface and depth. Parts of the building, alternately solid and dappled, are luminous. Of both monumental and human scale, this image ironically elicits feelings of grandeur and intimacy.
Suzanne Weaver, "Untitled (Empire State Building)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 289.