Harold Knickerbocker Faye (American, 1910–1980)
ca. 1935–38
MediumIntaglio on Rives paper
Dimensions9 7/8 × 7 3/8 inches
CreditGift of Helen S. Faye, 1990
Accession Number90.10.8

Moonlight strikes an industrial scene, where gravel or sand covers the ground. The artist, Harold Knickerbocker Faye, was born to a wealthy family—his father was vice president of Western Pacific Railway—but spent his short yet dynamic career depicting the other side of the tracks. While many artists of the period romanticized poverty, Faye turned a Realist eye towards New York City during the Depression, seeking formal beauty in otherwise bleak, depopulated scenes.

Behind a wall, to the right, a concrete-mixing tower lays dormant, and beyond that, in the center of the composition, stands a tenement house. Crisply set against the wall, a fire escape zig-zags up the back of the building, above which towers the Manhattan Bridge, a symbol of modernity when it was completed in 1909. The curvature of the suspension cables subtly echo the orb-like moon in the sky. An air of sublime mystery unites both the moon and the bridge, crowning a familiar scene of urban squalor below.

Exhibition History