View from the Top

Gustave Caillebotte’s Young Man at His Window features the back view of his brother, René, as he overlooks the street from the family apartment on rue de Miromesnil. Caillebotte was reasonably wealthy, as his address suggests, and pursued other interests such as gardening and yachting during and after his painting career. Even though he was an integral member of the Impressionists and mingled with some of the most prominent artists of the time, his work stands out from the rest. He did not experiment with loose brushstrokes, but innovated through cut-off compositions and unusual viewpoints, creating a mysterious and subtle atmosphere for the Parisian flaneur.

At first glance, Giacomo Balla’s Girl on a Balcony looks like an assemblage of colorful fragments, but, in fact, represents a human figure in motion across the canvas. Balla was a member of the Futurists, a short-lived, Italian movement that sought to depict the “invisible, impalpable, imponderable, imperceptible,” as stated in their 1915 manifesto. Their efforts to produce an entirely modern aesthetic lead them to deconstruct form in a way that expressed motion and speed in the purest sense.

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