The Golden Hour

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The New York Sun

“It has been said that the Roman poet Virgil invented the evening because he used it to such lasting effect in his pastoral poems,” says David Ligare on the occasion of his first solo exhibition at Hirschl & Adler Modern. “This threshold between day and night is often referred to as ‘the golden hour.’ I love the radical beauty of this late afternoon light with its attendant shadows because, despite its brightness, there is a melancholic edge to it, a reminder of mortality. Always low and at a right angle to the viewer, my positioning of sunlight maximizes form and presents the subject as half-light, half shadow. This balance of opposites, for me, is the essence of Greco-Roman Classicism.

“When I first began working with the altar-like space that I have used now for twenty-five years, I wanted to create paintings that function as essays on wholeness in which all questions about the sources of light, its reflections, and the exact time of day are answered. Objects in this light are intensely beautiful. I make no apologies for that. In The Laws, Plato argues for a nobility of depiction. For me this involves deeply respecting the integrity of the thing seen and the integration and interactions of all of the elements of the picture.”

“David Ligare: New Paintings” runs through May 12 at Hirschl & Adler Modern, 730 Fifth Avenue, at 57th Street, 212-535-8810,

Franklin Einspruch is the art critic for The New York Sun. He blogs at

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