Turning Out the Light BY JOHN SLOAN
JOHN SLOAN is New York’s Hogarth.
For years, his studio was near Seventh Avenue, with front windows facing Twenty-third Street,
and the back ones looking toward Twenty-fourth Street.
In those days-the first decade of the twentieth century-this was in the very heart of
New York’s wicked Tenderloin district. Sloan used to pass hours at
his windows watching all aspects of city life, from the sensational to the commonplace.
In this ,vay, from a student of the genre scene he evolved progressively into connoisseur and master.
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What he saw was transferred to his plate from memory, for
John Sloan thinks memory’s eye is more trustworthy,
more imaginatively selective, than the physical eye.
Turning Out the Light is a typical scene from the homely drama of a great city’s life.
As John Sloan himself saidofone of his early paintings,
Three A.M., “Night vigils at the back window of a Twenty-third Street studio were rewarded by motifs of this sort;
many of them were used in my etchings.” Like the same picture,
Turning Out the. Light “is redolent with the atmosphere of a poor, back, gas-lit room.
” Furthermore, it is one of Sloan’s most impressively designed etchings,
with the balance of blacks and whites finely calculated.