Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City


As a historian with a lifelong care for the metropolis, I'm glad to welcome you to "Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Landmarks, Poetry, Painting, History, Photography." This website looks at the great city, whose beauty is explained by Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by Eli Siegel (1902-1978), the noted American poet and educator who stated: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."

Every city, like every person, is a unique relation of opposites. The way hardness and softness, past and present, sameness and difference, rest and motion, vertical and horizontal come together in New York is what makes this city great. For example, the city consists of about 300 neighborhoods in all 5 boroughs making for its rich diversityeach of which is like the others, yet is also different.

Mr. Siegel loved the city. He lived in New York most of his life, taught Aesthetic Realism here, walked on its streets, wrote poetry, and lectured on the city—its history, its economy, its poets, writers, and artistsand much, much more. To hear him speak about New York and its people was an unforgettable experience, mingling as he always did the utmost in feeling and the greatest exactitude, wide range and great depth. He made New York, its people, and all they had to do with alive and permanent to me.

What you will see here are a selection of poems about New York City by Eli Siegel and other poets; talks by architects about landmarks such as Central Park and the Chrysler Building; discussions of works of art in New York City museums including "Opposites in the Life and Art of Edward Hopper,— the famous "Madame X" by John Singer Sargent; and the moving photograph by Nat Fein, "Babe Ruth's Farewell."

These talks have been given publicly in the metropolitan region, and speakers are available upon request.

John Stern
Aesthetic Realism Consultant

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