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The Winter Art Show

April 2024
1min read

Moving wholly from city to country, and farther into the realm of folk art, we come to a landscape by Frederick J. Sykes (1851–1926). Unknown until last year, when the New York gallery of Hirschl & Adler mounted his first show (he never got one during his lifetime), Sykes was born in England but by the 1870s had established himself in Brooklyn, where his mother ran a boardinghouse. During the 1890s he was painting along the Hudson, where he came upon this stand of pines. Although Sykes would likely have been highly offended to receive a compliment on it, a strain of naivete gives his works their charm. Many of them are shot through with a strange, metallic light, anticipating both Maxfield Parrish and science fiction, and there is something vaguely unsettling about this still, sunny scene with its implacable shadows, its tortuously entwined branches, and its venetian-blind greens.

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