Thursday, April 2, 2009
On page 54, in a footnote to my discussion of Charles Demuth's My Egypt, I mention Louis Lozowick's Minneapolis, a lithograph dated 1925. In it, Minneapolis has grown at the confluence or crossing of the Mississippi River (see the boats and ships at the lower left) and the railroad (lower right). It has in fact grown to a great height, which is a emphasized by the single, tall and narrow building (a grain elevator, it would seem) that rises from the bottom to the top of the picture. But this tall building is in fact made of three stacks of tall buildings: a group of cylindrical grain tanks at the bottom, a large mill or factory in the middle, and the upper half of a 19th century-style grain elevator, complete with a clerestory-like gallery. Elsewhere in the picture, we see the same "stacking" effect, sometimes going as high as four levels, of factories, smokestacks, silos, towers, and elevated railroad trestles.
The gesture is clear: though it is "merely" a city of commerce and industry -- note the absence of churches, cathedrals, statues, monuments and trees -- Minneapolis in fact requires several different perspectives to be seen for what it really is: a complex and novel production of space.