Known for employing his brush to capture magnificent Southern California cityscapes, painter Danny Heller offers viewers a trip across the country and back to mid-century Manhattan during this thrilling solo exhibition.
“In some ways, I act as a type of documentarian of an endangered architectural culture,” writes artist Danny Heller, who opened his most recent solo exhibition, “Midcentury Manhattan,” on March 1 at George Billis Gallery in New York City. Although the artists is known for his Southern California cityscapes, “Midcentury Manhattan” displays how Heller’s artistic lens translates to the “concrete jungle” — and the results are stunning.

Danny Heller, “Goldberger’s Pharmacy,” oil on canvas, 34 x 48 in. (c) George Billis Gallery 2016

Of the exhibition, Heller suggests that it “delves deeper into my exploration of the architecture, car culture, and design aesthetic that flourished in New York City in the 1950s and 60s. At a time when the city was transitioning from WWII aftermath to Modern metropolis, a whole new vision of contemporary city life was taking shape. Brownstone buildings turned into glass skyscrapers, a simplified clean aesthetic replaced ornate details, and entire city blocks were leveled to make way for the almighty automobile.”

Danny Heller, “TWA Terminal Arrival,” oil on canvas, 26 x 48 in. (c) George Billis Gallery 2016

Focusing on this evolving culture, Heller’s pictures comment on the duality of new and old in Manhattan, from deep spaces that show bridges and buildings stretching into the distance, to intimate views of storefronts displaying 1950s fashions. Heller’s pictures present the viewer with a crisp, clean view of the city that parallels the aesthetic he described. Further, Heller’s views are sparsely populated with human subjects — if they appear at all. In this way the paintings have a ghostly aura that grips the audience, but also encourages viewers to perhaps imagine themselves within the scene.

Danny Heller, “Park Ave Perspective,” 2016, oil on canvas, 34 x 44 in. (c) George Billis Gallery 2016

“Midcentury Manhattan” opened on March 1 and will be on view through March 26. To learn more, visit George Billis Gallery.  
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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