• Harvey Dinnerstein, Brownstone, 1958-1960, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Philip Desind, 1986.90.1

The row house that appears in Brownstone is a combination of several buildings from Harvey Dinnerstein’s Brooklyn neighborhood in the late 1950s. He was fascinated by the different people he found in the city, and wandered the streets near his studio to find models. Here, he included his daughter Rachel, who sits on the wall playing a horn; a Jewish boy he found playing in the street; a neighbor’s dog; and two young black girls he sketched in Poughkeepsie. Dinnerstein kept pigeons in his studio to capture their movement correctly, and borrowed the small wagon from a child because of its funky tapestry covering.” The doorway lies in shadow, and the sunlight focuses our eyes on the different figures, all absorbed in their pursuits. These are the people of different ages and races who kept the city vibrant as the postwar boom drew middle-class Americans out to the suburbs. The older figures seem to draw comfort from the children who explore the small miracles of the neighborhood.

Most people look but do not see. Try to develop the … awe and wonder of a child’s initial encounter with the world, and the perception of one viewing the earth for the last precious moment.” The artist, in Harvey Dinnerstein, Artist at Work, 1978

8560 in. (216.0152.4 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mr. Philip Desind

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group
  • Architecture – vehicle – cart
  • Animal – bird – pigeon
  • Animal – dog
  • Architecture Exterior – domestic – apartment
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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