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New NYU Exhibit Features New York Skyscrapers

By Della Hasselle | April 14, 2011 11:39am

By Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — NYU's new exhibit of the work by famed sculptor John Storrs takes a close look at the skyline that's made New York famous since the early 1900s.

The Machine-Age Modernist, which is open through July at the university's Grey Art Gallery, is a collection of 40 sculptures, paintings and drawings from the early 1900s through the early 1930s that pay tribute to the Machine Age's streamlined aesthetic.

The Machine Age was characterized by technological advances marked by steel production, including mass-produced automobiles and angular buildings. Storrs embraced the aesthetic with a yen for stone, graphite, black marble and bronze, which reflect his obsession with modernism and minimalist geometry.

Many of Storr's designs reflect an aesthetic that has continued to be an influence in New York's modern architecture.

The exhibit — which looks at elegant renderings of skyscrapers, some in sculptures up to six feet tall — is fittingly situated in a city known for its sleek, austere style, according to gallery director Lynn Gumpert.

"Our location amidst the cityscape of downtown Manhattan provides an evocative environment for his distinctive architectural forms," Gumpert said in a release.

Storrs' paintings also reflect his obsession with modernism and minimalist geometry, but also show the influence Surrealism had on him in later years.

Using graphite and ink on paper, Storrs later expanded his work by drawing abstract forms of living or lifelike subjects to his otherwise angular architectural pieces.

While New York proved to be a major influence for Storrs, his work also shows a European influence that came from his travels in France, curator Debra Bricker said.

"This transatlantic life allowed Storrs to straddle multiple artistic communities, audiences and debates, a situation that resulted in his radical renewal of sculpture," Bricker said.