Friday, November 11, 2011

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties @ Brooklyn Museum

Malvina Hoffman: Martinique Woman

Florine Stetheimer: Natorium Undine

Spending a bit of time in NYC again, hoping very much that others will keep one up on shows in Pittsburgh.

The Brooklyn Museum has an awesome permanent collection, heavy on great American art, strong Egyptian and African holdings and lots of contemporary work. Sadly, much of this is marred by ugly and hugely distracting, educational labels and giant signs. Even worse are the loud video displays that make it very hard to spend time or think about what one is seeing. Even so, this is a must see place.

The Youth and Beauty show currently up has none of these problems and is wonderfully, curated and displayed.

George Bellows: Two Women

It's hard for any one show of a modest 64 or so works to fully represent an artistic era, but this seemed to. I was struck by the contrast between so much of the American Art from this period with what was happening in Europe. The twenties in Germany and Eastern Europe was a time of turmoil and political chaos. While, beauty, gaiety, and infatuation with technical inventions is evident, it tends to be tempered by the scars, anger and questions left by the great war.

Much of American Art, in contrast is just very happy, sincere and optimistic. Our time of doubt comes in the 30's

Artists of the period dealt with the impact of European modernism; migration to cities, mass production, photography and the emerging role of women's liberation. The show reflects all of this. Several great works from the Harlem Renaissance are included.

Aaron Douglas: Charleston

An insanely great show, with works by Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Peter Blume, Joseph Stella, Thomas Hart Benton and many more. See it if you can.

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