Thursday, May 24, 2012

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties was the first wide-ranging exploration of American art from the decade whose beginning and end were marked by the aftermath of World War I and the onset of the Great Depression. The exhibition, declared “expansive and exhilarating” by the New York Times, included over 130 paintings, sculptures, and photographs by over sixty artists and was on view from March 4 through May 27, 2012, at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, Youth and Beauty also includes three works from the DMA’s collection by artists Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Gerald Murphy.

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties offers us a window into the conflicting forces at work during this complex decade, and how the response of the nation’s artists to those challenges transformed the face of American art,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The 1920s—The Jazz Age, The Roaring Twenties—was a decade marked by widespread urbanization, industrialization and mechanization, and social phenomena including the postwar collapse of traditional ideals, the rampant materialism of the Calvin Coolidge era, and the collision of rural and urban environments. American life was dramatically transformed, and American artists responded to this dizzying modern world with works that emphatically demonstrate a desire for clarity and wholeness and for the expression of stillness and order.

Luigi Lucioni (American, 1900–1988). Paul Cadmus, 1928. Oil on canvas, 16 x 12 1/8 in. (40.6 x 30.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund,
The thorough integration of painting, sculpture, and photography throughout the exhibition, and the critical attention devoted to a broad array of artists, from such leading figures as Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Hart Benton, Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Sheeler, Imogen Cunningham, and Man Ray, to lesser-known artists including Margrethe Mather, George Ault, Aaron Douglas, Elsie Driggs, and Peter Blume, will illuminate common themes and shared characteristics. Works of art in the DMA’s collection featured in Youth and Beauty included

Lighthouse Hill by Edward Hopper,

Razor by Gerald Murphy.

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892–1965). Gloria Swanson, circa 1925. Gelatin silver print, 12 3/4 x 9 3/8 in. (32.4 x 23.8 cm). George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York, Gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray. © Estate of Nickolas Muray

Joseph Stella (American, 1877–1946). The Amazon, 1925–26. Oil on canvas, 27 x 22 in. (68.6 x 55.9 cm). The Baltimore Museum of Art, Purchased with exchange funds from the Edward Joseph Gallagher III Memorial Collection, BMA 1991.13. Photo: Mitro Hood

Self-Portrait with Rita, 1922 by Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975) Oil on canvas. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / Art Resource, NY


A multi-author, fully illustrated catalogue co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and Skira Rizzoli accompanies the exhibition; it is the first publication solely devoted to an overview of American painting, sculpture, and photography of the 1920s.