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1979 Robert Cottingham Born: New York, New York 1935 oil on canvas 78 1/8 x 78 1/8 in. (198.4 x 198.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 1979, Robert Cottingham 1994.53 Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing

Gallery Label

The angled and cropped composition of this painting reflects Cottingham's work in an ad agency, as well as his tendency to use the camera as a "high-speed sketchbook." At just over six- feet square, Candy replicates the look of the small shops and catchy trade signs in a Brooklyn neighborhood. But the absence of a human figure keeps the image from being too literal. Instead, the intense lights and shadows, a gently flapping awning, and a stain of rust streaming down the center of the image make the viewer feel not just that he is there, but that he has always been there. In this canvas, Cottingham paints generations of memory, what he calls "the trail of people," in a disappearing New York community. The signs for soda and candy suggest the distance between intense childhood pleasures and the faded expectations of adults.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Architecture Exterior - commercial - store

Architecture Exterior - detail - awning

Object - other - sign


paint - oil

fabric - canvas