Monday, December 24, 2012

Vasco Mourão's New York Perceptions

This caught my eye in the current year-end double-issue of The New Yorker. It's by Vasco Mourão, a Portuguese artist based in Barcelona whom I had not previously noted. His page New York Perceptions resembles the Sketchbook page the magazine occasionally runs, not often enough for me. This is an incredibly detailed and textured rendering of some part of midtown. The boldly intruding negative space suggests this is adjacent to a park, although I don't recognize it. The vantage point is evidently extremely high, as if from an incongruously high tower. So, where exactly are we?

Vasco Mourão, New York  Perceptions
The New Yorker, December 24 and 31, 2012, Page 93

Below is another cityscape contributed by the artist and published in The New Yorker last April. Once again, it's dazzling, but where are we now exactly? Is that the Brooklyn Bridge entering midtown just north of the Chrysler Building? Here there is no possibility of this being a view from a tower. We are observing the City from over the East River, so this would have to be an aerial view.

What we're looking at is apparently a capriccio, a type of architectural fantasy popular in the 18th century, where buildings or ruins were juxtaposed in fantastic or impossible ways. We now have a 21st century version of this, where a reimagined midtown Manhattan is even more densely crowded than in reality.

But now what of the December image, above. It seems like a far more plausible aerial view, but is it truly based on reality, or is there some element of urban fantasy as well?

Vasco Mourão, New York  Perceptions
The New Yorker, April 23, 2012, Page 46

January 10, 2013 Update:  The New Yorker's online edition identifies the December 24 drawing as "About Central Park." That would make this a view of Central Park South with a dense array of buildings that are imported by the artist from other Manhattan locations.


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