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Authors & Articles > Industrial Landscapes
Poetry, Spring 2004   [Print article] [E-mail to a friend]
Industrial Landscapes
by Robert Gibb

A. H. Gorson, 18721933


�The Pittsburgh School,� his colleagues called
This way of painting the city�river and mill yard
And wharf�massed shapes laid against the light
That showered up, impasto, from their midst,
The way forms dissolved or were cast into relief
Or grew more massive in the general noon.
Unlike other tonal painters, he worked upward
From the stain, freighting his brush with paint.


In Pittsburgh at Night, for instance, white smoke
And the acetylene flash of metals being tapped,
The Bessemer conversion of cast iron into steel,
Are arrayed against the beryl of river and sky,
The silhouetted colonnades of the chimneys.
I stood before those familiar waters whole hours,
Growing up, at the picture plane of the foreground
On which the dark, cropped barges float.


I think I liked it because it seemed an aspect
Of the landscape I�d pass through going home,
Vantages in the distance held in similar scale.
But really it was a world Gorson had made his own,
Though soot from the stacks soiled his canvases
And he brought it into being in a room where
The windows blazed at night: daubs of citron
In a city gone to monochrome all around him.


If he�d lived here later he could have traced
The erasures of light in which the great sheds
Were dismantled�brownfield sites he�d freight
Across the stain of oxides. Perched on the bridge
As in the sky, he could plot out lines of perspective,
Bird�s eye and horizon, the vanishing points
From which the skeleton girders streamed apart.
Back in his studio, he could grid them in again.


Copyright © Robert Gibb
Buy This Issue
Spring 2004 Cover
Cover art by Pat de Groot

Guest-edited by
Campbell McGrath

Poetry & Fiction
Issue #93
Vol. 30/1
ISBN: 0933277407
Price: $10.95 04/15/2004
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