Construction - Seventh Avenue

Robert Birmelin, Construction - Seventh Avenue, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 78”. Juniata College Museum of Art. Photograph by Paul Hazi.

Robert Birmelin has had a long and distinguished career as an outstanding American Realist painter. Construction Seventh Avenue embodies a theme that has long preoccupied Birmelin: The intimacy and anonymity of public spaces, and the way that one’s attention constantly shifts in an attempt to navigate through the visual overload of a city street. Birmelin has widely exhibited over his fifty-year career and his work has been reviewed in such publications as Artforum, in which the critic Donald Kuspit described his paintings as “full of psychological as well as material detail,” and “brilliant in the way they confront us with a variety of urban spaces and surfaces, including human surfaces.” Speaking about his own work Birmelin says, poetically, this: “In a crowd…others move past us intent on their own unknown missions. On a larger scale the entity of the city is constantly renewed by new faces and yearnings; and yet it remains the same. Shadow shapes dart across the sidewalk. They have a life of their own, but in a phantom realm. Feet stride across the pavement - in spike heels, work boots, sandals, and running shoes. Eye contact with a stranger is enigmatic. I am other; she is mine.” Robert Birmelin’s works are in many major public collections, among them the Hirshhorn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.