The Beauty in the Blight | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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The Beauty in the Blight

The Beauty in the Blight

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"Riding a city bus to high school, I passed that corner every day," recalls Brooklyn-born artist Robert Cottingham. "The sign thrusts out like a grand movie marquee...but it's just for frankfurters."

He remembers well his first exciting visits to Times Square with his longshoreman father. Ever since, he has happily roamed dilapidated downtowns, especially around bus terminals, "the grubbiest part of town...exactly where my subject matter is." To create Frankfurters-Hamburgers, a lithograph, Cottingham did a 6 1/2-foot-square painting, then an acrylic study, then 26 metal plates, one for each color.

"Eyeing America: Robert Cottingham Prints" is at the National Museum of American Art through January; the show, and a tour of America with the artist, can be seen at www.nmaa.si.edu/cottingham/.

By Bruce Hathaway

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