February 11, 2014

Jacquette's Night Flights

        Yvonne Jacquette (USA, b. 1934) is famous for her aerial cityscapes - paintings, but various printmaking techniques, as well.  For a long time I’ve wanted to do a night view of one of my beloved industrial sites, but haven’t been able to get myself in a position to take any nighttime photos to work from.  In the meantime, though, it’s interesting to see how Jacquette handles the depiction of buildings in the dark.
        In this first piece it’s pretty straightforward.  The outlines of the buildings are carved in clear lines, the lit windows carved out to white.  I like the way the glass windows reflect splotchy, wavy light instead of being solid white squares.
        This second one is more complex and interesting, I think, because it has no outlines.  Each pinpoint of light is carved out and left to build up into a picture without connecting the dots.  The roads are streams of individual streaks, the reflections on the water short squiggles, and the shapes of the buildings must be inferred from the patterns of their glowing windows.  I know the first technique, with the outlines, would be easier for me, but I think this style would be more fun to experiment with.
        Finally, I include one more sample of Jacquette’s nocturnal woodcuts, with a low vantage point instead of her usual high point of view.  This is a Cleveland scene from the Cleveland Museum of Art and I had to include it because that’s where I’ll be next week.  Goodness knows that all cities and industrial areas have their share of ugliness - trash, pollution, environmental atrocities, blight and waste…  But at night, with the 
lights shining and shimmering, it’s hard not to be moved by the beauty.  Beacons and their glimmering reflections in the dark, lights that blazon, or beckon, or guide, or simply shine as if for the solitary joy of shining…

[Pictures: Chrysler Building Flanked by High Rise buildings II, woodcut by Yvonne Jacquette, 2009;
 Filaments of Light, woodcut by Jacquette, 2000 (Images from Mary Ryan Gallery);
Bridges Over Cuyahoga River, woodcut by Jacquette, 1999 (Image from the Cleveland Museum of Art).]

No comments: