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Work of the Week: Ivan Albright


The early 1970s: a good time for America, or the greatest time for America? Yeah, not the best time for the global economy. And okay, airlines disasters were a regular news segment alongside weather and sports. But also, facelifts were invented. Cars averaged 8 miles a gallon. Southern rock. The Munich Olympics.

Ha ha, okay, full disclosure: I'm using irony here. The early '70s weren't the best. I haven't even gotten to the big one: Watergate. During this month 40 years ago, the Senate began hearings on the whole fiasco. It's easy to imagine that our generation invented dysfunctional politics, but c'mon. Watergate created quite the scandal.

It wasn't all bad, though. First off, the Jackson 5, right? But also, art. On a sunny day in 1974, Ivan Albright sat in room 603 of the by-then-infamous Watergate Hotel and, with a set of colored pencils, sketched the view he saw. Albright, an artist famous for pulling no punches in depicting the inner ugliness of his subjects, seems to eschew any hint of the toxicity associated with his location. Instead he shows us the Potomac river with Impressionistic directness, using bright greens and deep blues. I was in Washington, D.C. last month—I saw the beauty Albright saw here. The news is always going to be a bummer, so remember to look around on a spring day. Have a nice long weekend, everyone.

Image Credit: Ivan Albright. View from Room 603, Watergate, Washington, D.C., 1974. Gift of Ivan Albright.