Tracking time by the sun’s rays is the focus of Penelope Umbrico’s work as she amasses variations of one of the most recognizable images of the Terminal – light streaming through the windows and pooling on the Main Concourse floor, frequently referred to as the Grand Central “sun rays.” Umbrico made 512 C-prints of five different images, all found on various websites selling posters, postcards, “vintage” prints, and photographs. The repetition of the exact same image file on multiple sites, as well as the variations in treatment such as cropping, flipping, graphic framing, color filters and “watermarks,” creates a wholly new composition that prompts the viewer to take a closer look at how photography, memory and image making are joined and indexed. Her artwork, titled by the citation of each image, is currently on view in our exhibition, ON TIME/Grand Central at 100 in the NYT Museum Gallery in Grand Central Terminal.
Sunlight streams through the windows in the concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1954. (AP Photo)
Penelope Umbrico, Five Photographs of Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central Station, Grand Central Terminal, 1903-1913, 1920, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1937, 1940, 1930-1940, 1935-1941, 1947, or 2010 by John Collier, Philip Gendreau Herbert, Edward Hulton…, 2013.
Artist Penelope Umbrico in front of her artwork.