Chrysler Building

Object Number: 
2006.29
Date: 
1996
Medium: 
Watercolor on two pieces of heavy watercolor paper with deckled edges
Dimensions: 
sheets: 25 1/2 x 20 in.; 9 5/8 x 20 in. ( 64.8 x 50.8 cm; 24.4 x 50.8 cm )
Gallery Label: 
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Behnke earned a BFA from Pratt Institute (1969), and an MA from New York University (1976). Her attachment to the iconography of the city, where she presently lives, coupled with her childhood memories of a mid-century country and suburban living in Connecticut have given rise to a particular dichotomy in her work: the contrasts of nature and civilization, or of structure and artifice. Her style can be characterized as "conceptual realism," and she likes to work in series one whose sub themes frequenty pivots around reflections. She has had multiple solo shows at the Fischbach Gallery and has particpated in many group exhibitions. Her works are found in many corporate collections, as well as at the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hamsphire, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., MIT, List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, and the New York Public Library. The format of the offered work, painted on two pieces of heavy watercolor paper with deckled edges, is a play on the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance altarpiece formula: a polyptych with a main panel and a predella, consisting of one of several panels. It was in the predella where pioneering naturalists loke Masaccio, Fra Angelico, and Gentile da Fabriano made early explorations into expansive panoramic landscapes. Behnke's main vertically-oriented scene manipulates the space on 42nd Street near Grand Central Station (seen at the left). She twists the foreground space punctuated by various marquees of the landmark station and its taxi stands to involve the viewer and lend immediacy to their experience of the work. The main focus of the slice of Manhattan view, seen from below, is the Chrysler building, partially blocked by the glass façade of the Hyatt Hotel. Behnke's staining technique lends a boldness to the watercolor and softens what could have been the hard edges of the architecture in this kaleidescope view of twilight descending on the metropolis as the lights in the crown of the Chrysler Building turn on. By contrast, the predella contains a horizontal daylight view of Manhattan from the Empire State Building looking towards Queens with the Chrysler Building at the left.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Lawrence L. Di Carlo
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group