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The Morning Report - 6/9/22 | Main | The Moral Abdication of The Academy [Muldoon]
June 09, 2022

Mid-Morning Art Thread [Kris]

Ury Bulowstrasse1.jpg

“Bülowstrasse High Station”
Lessur Ury

Ury was a German landscapist who also dabbled in Biblical scenes in his later life. While his landscapes present wide-angled vistas of rolling hills and lush countryside, his cityscapes give the viewer an impression of a close, compact, bustling urban life. These subjects vary in time of day and season, but Ury is most known for his night-time images of café and street life. In this work, Ury uses line, perspective, color, and light to give the viewer an impression of a busy, cosmopolitan train station during the German Interwar Period.

As a viewer, I am brought into the work by Ury’s use of line and perspective. The visual focal point of the work, called the vanishing point, is just left of center and the horizon line is just above. As a result, the lines of the work radiate out from a high point in the work, directly at me. These lines surround me and I am sucked in to the scene. I am no longer a passive viewer in a gallery; I am in this city, crossing this street on this dark, rainy night. By raising the horizon, Ury enlarges the street and the space it occupies. It has a slight slope to it and it becomes crowded with vehicles. I am at the bottom of this “hill” and everything seems to flow towards me. The headlights and streetlights outline the lines that converge at the vanishing point directly in front of me, creating a tunnel-like effect. This focuses my vision on the large, black truck bearing down on me and I suddenly feel the need to get out of its way, fast.

The work is mostly black. The only other color used in any real abundance is yellow. Yellow is a brilliant color that can explode out of the black. Its brightness can be dominant, so Ury controls it to representing small, limited areas of artificial light. Ury paints car and train lights, and street lamps but no buildings. It’s raining very hard, but there’s no lightning, and the downpour eliminates the moon and stars. All lights are non-natural and low to the ground. This weighs down the work as a whole. This bright color is limited to outlining the lines diverging from the vanishing point. Those lines anchor the yellow and reduces its power. The thick blackness dominates.

While Ury eliminates any specific image of humans, their presence is everywhere—in the trains, cars, and artificial light. These machines replace humanity and, for me, create a colder setting. They also replace the natural din of human interaction with the noise of car engines, horns, brake squeals, and trains running of tracks. The deep blackness caused by the heavy downpour and the bright yellow glare of the lights removes any real detail in the work. For me, this work is oppressive, anxious, and cold, and while filled with people going about their lives, there’s very little humanity.


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