Sunday, March 22, 2015

Xavier J. Barile, 42nd St. Nocturne

Xavier J. Barile, 42nd St. Nocturne, 1953

Xavier Barile (1891-1981) was an Italian-American artist and member of the Ashcan school. Born in Italy, he moved to Queens with his family in 1907.  He learned English quickly and began studying at Cooper Union.  Barile got work as a cartoon illustrator for magazines and newspapers to pay for school.  After graduating Copper Union, he went on to study at the Art Students League where he met Ashcan artists like John Sloan.  Like other Ashcan painters, Barile was committed to using art to express, not just beauty, but the truth of social and political issues that came with modernity in the twentieth century.  He also opened his own school and was committed to furthering art education.  As his career progressed, Barile became particularly well regarded for his portraits, which were praised for his ability to portray the subject's individual human character with sympathy and emotion.  He also worked in landscape and genre.  Among his best regarded works is Reclining Nude (1930).  42nd St. Nocturne is a wonderful painting that shows the character of a New York City night at the time.  Barile conveys the tension and excitement that runs through the crowd.  While the people's faces are not depicted, there is great attention to their characters, achieved through their clothing, pose, and position.  Each person stands out as an individual. Barile went to great lengths to accurately render a real street scene, even putting a real movie on the marquee.  There is great warmth in this painting, achieved through the warm yellow lighting and the patch of velvety blue sky, where a perfect crescent moon hangs over the city.

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