Night Windows


John Sloan ( American, 1871 - 1951 )

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General Description

John French Sloan began his career in Philadelphia, training at the city’s prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Sloan moved to New York in 1904, a seasoned artist looking to increase his visibility and escape what he considered to be an exhausted city. His work, based largely on close observation, explored the paradoxes and ecstasies of life in twentieth century New York—producing work that reflected on the his own nuanced, yet intimate view of the city, its inhabitants and events, as he simultaneously learned the city himself. In Night Window Sloan depicts a liminal space that is neither public nor private—the rooftops and narrow spaces between buildings. Set in the airspace both above and between tenement homes in New York, the night sky is lit only by the bright light streaming out from uncovered windows. Treating each open window as a vignette, Sloan juggles the private and public spheres, presenting his viewers with spaces that are extensions of the home and street. Out of one window, a mother clips clothes to a line strung between buildings, momentarily escaping two rowdy children inside the small apartment. Another woman stands before her window in a nightgown, clung tightly to her body. Overlooking all is a voyeur, seated atop a roof and masked in shadow. This onlooker can be considered a self-portrait of the artist, whose life and work are marked by the close observation and illustration of others.