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At The Art Institute | America After The Fall

"Curator Judith Barter provides insights into the exhibition America after the Fall, which brings together 50 works by some of the foremost artists of the era - including Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Grant Wood - to examine the landscape of the United States during the Great Depression and the many avenues artists explored as they sought to forge a new national art and identity."


See also: Judith Barter: Thanks To Her, Institute Tells The Whole Story Of American Art.


From the Art Institute:

"Collectively, the aesthetically and politically varied works produced in the 1930s paint a revealing portrait of the nation's evolving psyche.

Edward Hopper's reflective, melancholy approach to homegrown subjects is quite different from the bold romanticism of Thomas Hart Benton and his fellow Regionalists, who sought to create a national art that glorified America.

"Painters such as Philip Evergood and Ben Shahn used social realism to protest political attitudes of the time, highlighting the plights of migrant sharecroppers, Jewish immigrants, and other marginalized members of society.

"Racial issues also came to the fore: Joe Jones chillingly depicted a lynching in American Justice, while Aaron Douglas inserted a more inclusive vision of black culture into the heroic histories of the United States.

"History, in fact, was frequently used to speak to present times; realist Charles Sheeler linked the earlier, spare American aesthetic of Shaker objects to his exploration of the contemporary, while Grant Wood took on the country's founding myths in works such as Parson Weems' Fable."



"Amid the backdrop of breadlines, Hoovervilles and the rising threat of fascism across the Atlantic, American artists of the 1930s experimented with myriad styles in the quest to forge a new national identity - and artistic expression - from the despair.

"The Art Institute of Chicago's upcoming exhibition America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s features 50 pieces that offer a glimpse into that turbulent time. The works, on display at the museum from Sunday to Sept. 18, juxtapose the nation's pastoral past with its industrial future and tackles some of era's social, political and economic strifes."


Finally, check out this treatment in the Wall Street Journal. Beautiful.

From the text:

"Ms. Barter, curator of American art at the Art Institute, also believes that American artists came into their own in the 1930s - an era marked by what she sees as an unusual diversity of styles. Many artists of the 1930s spent a lot of time arguing about what art should be. Stuart Davis, who was painting abstract works, conducted a war of words against the proud realist Thomas Hart Benton."


Comments welcome.


Posted on June 7, 2016

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