Queens Lights at Night (1980)
For over forty years, artist Yvonne Jacquette has been enamored with the way the world reveals itself from aerial perspectives. Jacquette chanced upon the idea when flying to California to visit her parents in the mid-1970s, and since then has regularly taken to airplanes, helicopters and skyscrapers for the inspiring vistas they deliver. Sometimes, Jacquette’s creations capture the abstract serenity of the scene below, while others are compressed and structured compositions of a bustling metropolis. Yet the true constant of her oeuvre is the artist’s own empathy that she brings to each work: “The landscape for me is a kind of meditative place; I am a meditator,” the artist notes. “Often before I go up in a plane or go look out a high window, I try to quiet my mind as much as possible. I try not to make up too many reasons for doing something—just try to let something flow. [I’m] trying to get the essence of a landscape” (“Yvonne Jacquette in Conversation with Vincent Katz,” November 10, 2016, on the occasion of the exhibition Yvonne Jacquette: Paintings 1981-2016 at DC Moore Gallery, New York).
20th Century Art: Lot 23
Yvonne Jacquette Queens Lights at Night (1980)
In Jacquette’s diptych Queens Lights at Night (1980) one can feel the quiet flow and essence of New York. With her meditative mindset and delicate handling of the charcoal, Jacquette transforms a congested evening commute into ethereal pastel pearls that convey the strange mystery and vitality of the city. This work was created just a few years after Jacquette’s first nocturnal study, which she executed when she was visiting her ailing friend, the poet Edwin Denby, in a Manhattan hospital in 1976-1977. The resulting pastel drawing was swiftly acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1978, and her urban nocturnes have since become some of the most celebrated works of her career.