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Richard Britell
Angel of the Upper West Side, 263 W 86th Street at West End Ave

2016

About

The Angel of the Upper West Side painting's colors are mainly grey, beige, maroon and blue. The painting depicts architectural details of a New York City church. Richard Britell, a career painter, studied at Pratt Institute with Philip Pearlstein and Walter Erlebacher. His first show in NYC at Staempfli Gallery was sold out, and reviewed in the New York Times by Hilton Kramer. This artist works in several distinct styles. This is a fine example of his photographic yet painterly, architectural style. The Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew is an historic United Methodist church and Upper West Side landmark. The artist has focused on a lovely detail on the upper floor including a circular stained glass window and one of it’s accompanying angels. Mr. Britell says of one of his early experiences as an artist, "I am not a New Yorker. This came home to me the first time I ever entered a gallery to show my portfolio. It was a large room in which were eight foot square black and white photographs of women's heads. In the corner was a beautiful woman talking on the phone in a German accent. I said, ‘I would like to show the director my portfolio’. She said, ‘I'm sorry sir, this isn't a gallery, it's a hair salon.’ Later that same day I did acquire gallery representation. Four years later I had my first one man show which was sold out, and reviewed in the New York Times. Most of those paintings back then were of the architecture of Pittsfield, MA. New Yorkers bought them all up. Now New Yorkers are buying up the city of Pittsfield itself, go figure. Hilton Kramer, in his review of my work said, "If there is an element of nostalgia in these works it is not too bothersome..." Of these current works I would say, if there is an element of nostalgia in them, it is entirely the point. I learned to love New York, and I realized that it is possible to love a place in the same way that one might love a woman, in the same way, and with the same consequences.” “There are modes of Realism in which the depiction of concrete detail is so concentrated–and so obsessive–that the visual result bears a distinct esthetic kinship to pictorial abstraction. Richard Britell’s paintings are a particularly vivid example of this phenomenon. Mr. Britell’s subject matter is drawn from the world of pre-modernist architecture. What he focuses on are brick facades, stonework structures and the elegant decorative embellishments that were once a standard feature of the gothic revival, neo-classical and other historicist styles of American urban architecture. These he depicts with a great deal of pictorial force. Only rarely, however, does the imagery in Mr. Britell’s paintings offer us much in the way of social documentary–or social commentary. (The broken window that we glimpse in a brick facade in the painting called ”Bank Row, Syracuse,” for example, is unusual.) It is the design element in this architecture that interests him–the density and regularity of its formal detail, say, or the handling of light and shadow in conception of a complex outdoor structure. Often the facade of a building is observed in the kind of close-up view that becomes, in effect, the equivalent of a geometrical abstract painting. He is particularly good at painting brickwork, stone window frames and decorated entrances. He has a very analytical eye, and he commands an impressive technique. If there is also an element of nostalgia in these paintings, it isn’t particularly bothersome. After all, we all have ample reason to cherish this architecture today, and Mr. Britell’s homage to it proves wholly equal to its quality.” -Hilton Kramer New York Times

Details

  • Condition
    Excellent.
  • Dimensions

    H 59 in. x W 36 in.

    H 149.86 cm x W 91.44 cm

  • Gallery location
    GT. BARRINGTON, MA
  • Reference number
    LU51131635053

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About the Seller

Vetted
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Located in GT. BARRINGTON, MA
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