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Night Wing: Metropolitan Area Composite II (work of art)

Artwork Info

80 5/8 x 56 3/4 inches (204.8 x 144.1 centimeters)


Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

Object Number

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • Night Wing: Metropolitan Area Composite II captures a window-seat plane passenger’s view of the New York metropolitan area at night. 
  • To capture the complexity of the places she represents in her paintings, artist Yvonne Jacquette uses a composite technique in which she first makes several sketches of a cityscape. She combines the imagery and alters the scale, perspective, and geography in order to create dreamlike cities that are based more on memory and observation than on reality. 
  • Jacquette’s aerial-view art practice began in 1969, after she traveled to San Francisco by airplane. Eventually she began to charter flights with the sole purpose of viewing and sketching the cities she saw from the air. In 1990 she began blending her sketches to create cityscapes from different perspectives.

Learn More

When traveling by air, Yvonne Jacquette prefers a window seat. She uses this elevated perspective to create sketches of aerial views that she then transforms into paintings. Based on her sketches and studies of the New York-Newark metropolitan area, Jacquette created a composite image for this painting and incorporated slight shifts in scale and perspective. Her composition captures the experience of an air traveler’s mesmerizing, disorienting view and invites viewers to look beyond the airplane’s wing and into the deeper, dreamier space below.

The first-known, aerial-view photograph was taken in 1858 by French photographer Nadar, who captured the streets of Paris from a hot air balloon. While many artists have explored aerial views in their work, this technology has also served practical functions like capturing battlefield imagery and assisting with city planning.

tags: perspective, map, movement, observation, technology, light, airplane, flight

Additional Resources

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Resources for Students:


  • An aerial-view painting of the New York metropolitan area from the perspective of an airplane passenger.

    Night Wing: Metropolitan Area Composite II