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- New York's Golden Age of Bridges
In New York’s Golden Age of Bridges, artist Antonio Masi teams up with writer and New York City historian
Joan Marans Dim to offer a multidimensional exploration of New York City’s nine major bridges, their artistic and
cultural underpinnings, and their impact worldwide.
The tale of New York City’s bridges begins in 1883, when the Brooklyn Bridge rose majestically over the East River, signaling the start of America’s “Golden Age” of bridge building. The Williamsburg followed in 1903, the Queensboro (renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge) and the Manhattan in 1909, the George Washington in 1931, the Triborough (renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) in 1936, the Bronx-Whitestone in 1939, the Throgs Neck in 1961, and the Verrazano-Narrows in 1964. Each of these classic bridges has its own story, and the book’s paintings show the majesty and artistry, while the essays fill in the fascinating details of
its social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental history.
America’s great bridges, built almost entirely by immigrant engineers, architects, and laborers, have come to symbolize not only labor and ingenuity but also bravery and sacrifice. The building of each bridge took a human toll. The Brooklyn Bridge’s designer and chief engineer, John A. Roebling, himself died in the service of bridge building. But beyond those stories is another narrative—one that encompasses the dreams and ambitions of a city, and eventually a nation.
At this moment in Asia and Europe many modern, largescale, long-span suspension bridges are being built. They are the progeny of New York City’s Golden Age bridges. This book comes along at the perfect moment to place these great public projects into their historical and artistic contexts and to inform and delight artists, engineers, historians, architects, and city planners. In addition to the historical and artistic perspectives,
New York’s Golden Age of Bridges explores the inestimable connections that bridges foster, and reveals the extraordinary impact of the nine Golden Age bridges on the city, the nation, and the world.
Antonio Masi, fascinated by bridges since childhood, began painting them a decade ago. He is drawn particularly to the 59th Street (the recently renamed Ed Koch Queensboro)Bridge, which his grandfather Francesco Masi helped build. Masi has won national and global acclaim for his paintings of New York City bridges. His artwork can be seen atwww.antoniomasi.com.
Joan Marans Dim
Joan Marans Dim is the co-author of The Miracle on Washington Square: New York University and the author of the novel Recollections of a Rotten Kid. She grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and has traveled the bridgesof New York City all her life. She now lives in Brooklyn.
HAROLD HOLZER is Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and one of the nation’s leading authorities on Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He is chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and has written, co-written, or edited forty-seven books, most recently Lincoln and the Power of the Press.
“New York’s Golden Age of Bridges” uses paintings by Antonio Masi and essays by Joan Marans Dim to span the gaps in the skyline by focusing on the physical connections that helped create Greater New York."—The New York Times
"Poetic and enlightening, New York’s Golden Age of Bridges pairs Antonio Masi’s masterful watercolors with Joan Marans Dim’s entertaining essays. Masi makes his own contribution to the rich artistic heritage celebrating the city’s great landmarks. His command of watercolor conveys both the mighty weight and the evocative delicacy of New York’s soaring spans, while Dims’ commentary offers insights into the artist’s life-long engagement with the subject, his aims and influences. Their stirring collaboration will take its place on the bookshelves of New York devotees."—Pamela N. Koob, Curator, Permanent Collection, The Art Students League of New York
"Antonio Masi is quite simply an astonishing painter. His large-scale watercolor paintings have a grandeur to them that is most appropriate to his subject of the awe-inspiring New York City bridges he loves to portray. He is able to capture changing weather, the feel of endless traffic, and the atmosphere of the vibrant and bustling city these engineering marvels serve, but most of all Antonio portrays their majesty and grace. Anyone who loves the experience that is New York will want to own and absorb this book—these are images that are timeless."—Claudia Seymour, President, Salmagundi
“Many books have been written about the bridges of New York, as evidenced by the volumes cited in this work. Yet, the idea of framing descriptive text and a highly personalized story around critically acclaimed works of fine art is a unique approach. Through the visual interpretation of Antonio Masi, the bridges take on different personae according to mood, physicality, vantage point, and time of day. Joan Marans Dim’s essays are a translation of the process for the reader and viewer and bring a contextual richness to viewing the works that might otherwise be missing."—Nancy Murphy Cricco, University Archivist, New York University
"For most of us bridges are massive immovable structures of steel, cement and cables; marvels of engineering that we don’t understand. We take them for granted as they transport us from one place to another. As seen through the eyes of Antonio Masi and portrayed in his powerful paintings bridges become beautiful, and as ethereal as medieval cathedrals. His paintings, like the bridges, also take us from one place to another. Antonio’s place is a place where his artistic vision, his magical light and movement let us understand his personal connection to these bridges and marvel at the beauty he presents for our enjoyment."—Jim McFarlane, President, American Watercolor Society
“This book pays artistic tribute to the existence of great bridges—a wonderful achievement.”—Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life
“The history of our bridges is fascinating as set forth in New York’s Golden Age of Bridges by Antonio Masi and Joan Marans Dim. I’ve always loved the unique look of the many bridges connecting Manhattan to the other four boroughs of New York City. Now that I’ve been honored by having my name attached to the Queensboro Bridge, I have an even greater interest in reading the history of all the other bridges as well.”—Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City
“For more than a century, New York’s bridges have stood as expressions of our city’s monumental gifts: of ingenuity, pragmatism, grit, and vision. Antonio Masi and Joan Marans Dim pay memorable tribute to these remarkable structures and the people who built them, connecting stories of immigrant sacrifice, political battles, feats of engineering, and transcendent architecture in much the same way that the bridges themselves connect the complex mosaic of New York.”—John Sexton, President, New York University
“Visionary engineer and inventor John A. Roebling united the great cities of New York and Brooklyn with the world’s longest suspension bridge in 1883. Eight great bridges culminating with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964 followed—each an engineering marvel that reshaped the city. Many artists have found inspiration in these majestic structures, but few have captured the
wonders of these iconic spans as clearly as this series of paintings by Antonio Masi.”—Rob Del Bagno, Manager of Exhibitions, New York Transit Museum
“Antonio Masi’s haunting watercolors demonstrate the eloquence of gesture and erasure. Bold in design, each picture presents a structure that is both an ideal and a ruin. By restricting his palette
and layering multiple glazes, Antonio creates an atmosphere that corresponds to consciousness as it is prompted, clouded, and revised by time. As an edifice, the bridge is an icon of aspiration; as a picture by Antonio Masi, it is a locus of memory. Antonio and his grandfather’s story is the city’s story, which Joan Marans Dim deftly weaves in and around the stories of New York’s magnificent
bridges in this beautiful, rewarding book.”—Maureen Bloomfield, editor in chief of The Artist’s Magazine
“The life, energy, and genius of the city imbue Antonio Masi’s artistry.”—Paul Ching-Bor, artist, art instructor
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