"A Tribute to Rudy Burckhardt: Lavender Sky," The Brooklyn Rail, June 2003.
The kind of sky Rudy might have filmed from out his loft window, looking east but caught on chairs and sofa, sweeping the room. Later, there he’d be in the editing room, a tiny corner with his simple hand-turned axles, table piled high with reels. He’d sit there, searching a shot, a "scene" he’d call it, which might have been pigeons scrambling for water from a puddle, or a stock still building, finding it, cut it out quickly, without hesitation, reattach ends of film, put it back on the machine.
Rudy Burckhardt, "Maine 1979," courtesy of Vechile Editions.
Then it was dark. Rudy sat beneath a de Kooning: an orange globe and a yellow, and to the north a green area and a gray and more globes. De Kooning gave it to Edwin Denby, who left it to Rudy, but Rudy and Edwin both bought de Koonings in the 1930s and early ’40s. They’d give him a little money when he needed it, and after a while, he’d give them a painting. That was 145 West 21st Street, a loft where they had the same phone number for fifty years.
And closing it off. Looking at women: photographing them, filming them, painting them. And now there are no more women. Just light that is still delicate, still liquid, still fills 29th Street with its amber glow. But you see, there’s more than that, and that’s what the child wants, his fingers extended as winter whips the city.