Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Italian. Well, sort of.

New York City, 

I recently walked over to 139 West 10th Street in order to see where the Italian restaurant in John Sloan’s 1912 painting Renganeschi’s Saturday Night had once been located. Sloan lived only two blocks away and is known to have eaten there. On at least one occasion, he was even joined by Robert Henri, a fellow artist of the Ashcan School of realist painters. The artists and writers in Greenwich Village were fascinated by their neighbors, often using the social life of the city as the subject of their art.1 In this painting, Sloan depicts three young women sitting around a table on a girls’ night out; the scene looks so familiar that updating the clothing style would bring it into the present day. In fact, it was fascinating to see that there was still a restaurant in the old building, and that things had not changed as much as I might have expected.