Louis Bosa,Taking Down the El at 57th Street, 1940, oil on canvas, H. 34 x W. 36 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Mrs. Louis Bosa.

“I am just a humble painter with a twisted eye.” – Louis Bosa

Tip #5 – A work of art can be a point of comparison to other people, places and time periods.

Look closely at Taking Down the El at 57th Street by Louis Bosa. What do you see? Is anything familiar to you? Is this scene something you would see today? Why or why not?

Bosa’s paintings were influenced by urban realist John Sloan and depicted colorful scenes of city life. The figures in his works were highly expressionistic and stylized, bordering on caricature. He loved to tell stories, but said, “in a picture you must never tell the whole story. Part of the story must be hidden but you must get to the mood.”  He often created whimsical scenes, but also painted images representing a more complex, serious side of the artist. Bosa often followed his subjects around, sketching them and making mental notes of how to combine them into a larger painting later on. He captured the humor of people in the face of the mundane and the tragic, saying, “People are so funny, at times they are sad.”

Robert Spencer,(1879-1931), Summertime, ca. 1915-20, oil on canvas, H. 25.25 x W. 30 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

Compare Bosa’s Taking Down the El at 57th Street to Summertime by Robert Spencer. Both are images of people doing ordinary activities. How are they different? Similar? What can we learn about the time period and the setting portrayed in each of these works? You can also see Summertime on display as part of the exhibit, Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art.

Related Resources

Want to learn more about landscapes? Take a look at these worksheets to use during your next visit: