|Description: ||EXHIBITED: Boston Art Club, Seventy-Fifth Exhibition (Jan. 4-Feb. 2, 1904), as Park Snows (or Winter in Madison Square); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., First Biennial Exhibition (Feb. 7-Mar. 9, 1907), as Park Snows (no. 392), Bronze Medal Award Winner at “Exposition Universelle,” April 15–November 12, 1900, Paris, no. 25, as “Neiges du Parc.” |
In Park Snows (Madison Square, New York), Charles Austin Needham, who from 1890 to 1921 lived near Madison Square at 145 East Twenty-third Street, pushes his image of winter in New York closer to abstraction, emphasizing the curving pattern of the sidewalks in the square, in a manner reminiscent of the night views of the contemporary photographers Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and Edward Steichen (1879-1973). Needham captures the dynamism of the city to which its occupants contribute their energy but that exists as a larger force with a life of its own, like the weather, largely unaffected by any one individual.
Though largely forgotten today, during his lifetime Needham was well known in New York art circles for painting impressionist landscapes and urban views that also reflected the influence of Ash Can School realism. An observant critic who reviewed Needham’s exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in 1907 noted his “vigorous and, at times, positively austere search after truth. It is as if he left mere sensuous tone to take care of itself and strove with all his powers for just the very grain and lifeblood of nature.” The writer praised Park Snows, which won a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, as an example of how Needham “begins by impressing you with the accuracy of his work, and ends by touching you with its beauty.”
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