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Arnold Rönnebeck

Born: 1885, Nassau, Germany
Died: 1947, Denver, Colorado, United States of America

Brooklyn Bridge

Lithograph on off-white wove paper
Image: 12 5/8 x 6 11/16 in. (32.1 x 17.0 cm)
Sheet: 15 7/8 x 11 7/16 in. (40.3 x 29.1 cm)
Mat: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1996.55
Signed: In graphite, lower right: Arnold Ronnebeck
Inscribed: In graphite, lower left: "Brooklyn Bridge"
Artist Name: []
Markings: On verso, in graphite, upper left: 267; watermark, lower left: FRANCE


Arnold Rönnebeck's lithograph provides a dramatic upward glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge that juxtaposes linear and tonal geometries. The darkest tones represent the bridge's solid pier structure and the warehouse rooftops on the Brooklyn side; across the boat-filled river rendered as an abstract grid, the lower Manhattan skyline is visible beneath the bridge's span. The upper half of the print features a cobweb pattern of diagonal lines formed by the bridge cables intersecting rays of sunlight. Rönnebeck's striking treatment of New York's great landmark partakes of both the abstracting tendency of John Marin's etching Brooklyn Bridge, No. 6 (TF 1995.15) and the comparative realism of John Taylor Arms's etching Gates of the City (TF 1996.3) and Stow Wengenroth's lithographs Brooklyn Bridge in Winter (TF 1995.51) and Manhattan Gateway (TF 1995.52).

When Rönnebeck arrived in New York City from his native Germany in 1923, he was taken with the dynamism of the metropolis and avidly sketched its skyscrapers and monumental urban vistas. Around 1925, he began to make lithographs from these sketches, of which Brooklyn Bridge is one. Later, Rönnebeck made another lithograph view of the bridge looking toward Manhattan from the Brooklyn side. He was one of numerous artists for whom the Brooklyn Bridge, a marvel of technological innovation when it was completed in 1883, remained a half-century later a symbol of the soaring aspirations associated with the modern metropolis. With its thrusting structures, taut lines, and crystalline planes, Rönnebeck's rendering also embodies the early twentieth-century romance with machinery and technology.

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The artist
Margo Pollins Schab, Inc., New York, New York
Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1996

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Exhibition History

Figures and Forms: Selections from the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 9–July 9, 2000.

On Process: The American Print, Technique Examined, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, January 13–March 2, 2001.

Paris-New York, aller-retour. Une Modernité américaine en formation, 1875–1940. Oeuvres des collections de la Terra Foundation for the Arts et des Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (Paris-New York, Roundtrip. American Modernism in the Making, 1875–1940. Works from the Terra Foundation for the Arts and the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, September 15–November 30, 2002. [exh. cat.]

Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883–1950. Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia (organizer); Venue: Georgia Museum of Art, September 17–December 11, 2016 [exh. cat.]

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Published References

Master Prints of Five Centuries: the Alan and Marianne Schwartz Collection. (exh. cat., The Detroit Institute of Arts). Detroit, Michigan: The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1990. No. 88, p. 107 [illustrates variant Brooklyn Bridge].

Williams, Reba White. "Appendix 6: Arnold Rönnebeck (1885–1947)," in The Weyhe Gallery Between the Wars, 1919–1940. New York: PhD dissertation submitted to City University of New York, 1996, pp. 480–510. [Note: Williams's checklist of Rönnebeck prints, the most complete to date, is on pp. 498–500; Brooklyn Bridge is no. 1 of the "New York Subjects" cited on p. 498 (Marilyn Symmes Survey, 2003).]

Griffith, Bronwyn and Lee A. Vedder. Paris-New York, aller-retour (New York-Paris Round Trip. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text p. 44 (French), 94 (English), 107 (checklist); fig. 18, p. 40 (color). [specific reference to Terra print]

Gillespie, Sarah Kate, Kimberly Orcutt, Janice Simon, and Meredith Ward. Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883–1950. (exh. cat., Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia). Athens, Georgia: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 2016. Text p. 21; p. 122, cat. no. 30; ill. p. 122, cat. no. 30 (color).

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