Cityscapes: Ben Aronson

Ben Aronson (American, born 1958) is well known for his paintings of men on Wall Street, which could also be described as portraits of modern sophistication, stress and greed.

Alchemist 67"x48" 2010

Aronson is also known for his dramatic paintings of cities. His expressive style shows influences from Richard Diebenkorn and other Bay Area artists as well as Franz Kline and his painter father, David Aronson. His style is quite a contrast to the gem-like detail in the paintings of Rackstraw Downes; here complexity is powerfully simplified. The strong value contrasts are visually arresting and give emotional weight; city buildings may rise in the sunlight like glittering kings while people and cars are sneaking about ominously in the shadows.

Aronson is the sort of painter who makes it look easy. His gutsy yet decisive brushwork is the kind of painting that is so difficult for most of us to get right without losing a feeling of spontaneity, without getting bogged down in second-guessing about angles and proportions. He's so gifted that I imagine his particular challenge is in keeping his work safe from any hint of slickness by keeping it anchored in strong feeling.

Chicago in Snow oil on panel 12"x12" 2005

Low Sun, Rising Shadow 2007

Yellow Awning 2005

Over Madison oil on panel 12" x 12" 2005

The Bay from Russian Hill oil on panel 12"x12" 1999

Merging Traffic, Closed Ramp oil on panel 50" x 38" 2014

City at Dusk


  1. I think my heart is actually racing a bit when I look at his paintings. So beautiful.


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