With photo-realist detail, Estes paints the Lincoln Center landmark through the window of a mid-town bus. The artist seamlessly reconciles multiple vanishing points and radical disparities in space and scale, balancing the deep plunge of the bus interior with the airy, open landscape of 64th and Broadway. Here, Estes creates one of his "sliced" compositions, dividing the canvas vertically by an angled window. With virtuoso skill, the artist vividly depicts the surface of the transparent window, the faint reflection of the fluorescent light that illuminates the interior of the bus and the exterior sidewalk. According to Louis Meisel, the dealer who coined the term "Photorealism," Estes "invented a way to paint what appears to be two entirely different points of focus-the close-up and the distant panorama-as part of one canvas. Neither the eye nor the camera can capture images in this way, but Estes convinces us that it can be done" (L. Meisel, Photorealism Since 1980, New York, 1993, p. 179). While Estes painted the same intersection in the early 1980s, his 2003 version has the refinement and balance of his mature compositions. Estes achieves allover illusionistic intensity by using multiple source photographs: in different lightings and focus settings, the artist takes multiple shots of his intended subject matter, which he combines to make one seamless, holistic image.
According to the artist, he can simply sense when his pictures are complete. Speaking of his later pictures, Estes observes, "there's a little more sparkle, a little more depth, I can see where I'm going to stop. I can hear it too, when it goes click" (R. Estes, quoted in Richard Estes, Sandro Parmiggiana (ed.), exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2007, p. 109). He applies paint with the same intuitive skill: rarely blending his brushstrokes, he instead lays down crisp, confident layers of oil paint. Believing in the tradition of painterly draftsmanship, the artist takes inspiration from past painters such as Johannes Vermeer and Edward Hopper. Despite Estes' specifically 20th century subject matter, the artist imbues all his metropolitan scenes with a sense of calm that characterizes Vermeer's interiors and Hopper's outdoor scenes. Along with Chuck Close, Estes was one of the founding members of the Photo-realist movement in the 1960s. His cool, objective rendering downplays emotional content which aligns him with the Minimalist and Pop artists, who also reacted against the emotion-laden strokes of the Abstract Expressionists.