American Scene Painting / Regionalism We all know that Europe had long been the center of the Western art world. As modernism spread to the U.S. by way of the Armory Show (among other exhibitions) and by way of European artists seeking refuge from world war by taking up residence in America, some American artists resisted this influence. Rather than mimick European art forms, some American artists wanted to forge an indigenous American art that reflected American values, lifestyle, etc. -American scene painters/Regionalists in the 30s, espousing conservative values in American heartland, were suspicious of the avant-garde, desiring for American regions to compete with one another in order to foster a rich American culture. Grant Wood was a leading member of this group. -Here Wood’s dentist and sister as father and daughter—house in “carpenter gothic” style—considered these people good Midwesterners (Iowans), “basically good and solid people” -Severe expressions emphasized by meticulous, realistic style -Mixed reviews from critics. The public embraced it’s positive message about American “strength, dignity, fortitude” while others saw it as too nationalistic in an era of dangerous nationalistic politics worldwide (especially in Germany) Grant Wood: Revolt Against the City , 1935 – pamphlet issued in 1935 “ Painting has declared its independence from Europe, and is retreating from the cities to the more American village and country life. Pais is no longer the mecca of the American artist. The American public, which used to be interested solely in foreign and imitative work, has readily acquired a strong interest in the distinctly indigenous art of its own land…an honest reliance on subject matter which he can best interpret because he knows it best.”
The Great Depression, begun with the U.S. stock market crash in 1929 changed the face of America and American art. The fledgling modern art market disappeared and museums slowed their acquisitions and exhibition schedules. In response, the US government under Roosevelt established programs to provide relief and give artists, among others, jobs. These programs included the WPA (Works Progress Administration), the FAP, etc. which hired artists, photographers, and filmmakers to create a portrait of American life at that time. In some cases, these works were used propagandistically to raise funds for relief programs by their free placement in newspapers and more. This photo would have been accompanied by a caption and a short essay entitled “Look at Her Face!” which encouraged empathy and generosity from its reader. -Lange, SAnFran based, active 1935-39, photographed migrant workers fleeing to cali -Florence Thompson, 32 yr old mother of 7, a pea picker out of work -shows the underbelly of American culture at that time, even if you’re an industrious American, you may still live in poverty these people as embodiments of their ideas about poverty
-Lange, SAnFran based, active 1935-39, photographed migrant workers fleeing to cali -Florence Thompson, 32 yr old mother of 7, a pea picker out of work -shows the underbelly of American culture at that time, even if you’re an industrious American, you may still live in poverty these people as embodiments of their ideas about poverty
- after WWI many AfroAm left rural south for jobs in northern defense plants, called The Great Migration , created a huge shift in the socio-political American landscape and increased racial tension in north -with this, a circle of writers, artists, etc developed in Harlem, NY, this created a flowering of artistic activity known as Harlem Ren. - New Negro movement: in an effort to revitalize black identity and forge a positive image of the afram experience, black artists looked to contemporary culture and historic events for their subject matter, while drawing on their training in European art and from an indigenous folk tradition for their hybrid aesthetic (here cubism and AfroAm folk art) -a 60-panel cycle that tells the story of this migration, of which his family was a part (from S. Carolina to Atlantic City, NJ where he was born) -created at the age of 23 and the first AfroAm artist to gain acclaim in the segregated NY art world
-Hitler effectively shut down modern art practice in Europe through an aggressive campaign against it (Kollwitz dropped from academy, Kirchner committed suicide) -In fact, much of his military strategy was designed to rob European museums of their collections of pre-modern art for his very own museum of German art then in the works. All the while he and his ministers were waging a war against modern art through exhibitions (“Degenerate Art” exhibition of 1937), illegal acquisition and selling of these works (way below their value), and by ruining the careers of these artists either by having the forcibly removed from their teaching posts or by shutting down modern institutions (such as the Bauhaus in 1933) causing these artists to flee en masse to the US. The Bauhaus, as you have read, challlenged the traditional separate of art and other crafts by advocating a union of all art forms, an application of good design to living environments, and a knowledge of machine-age technologies. Under its leader, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus offered a diverse curriculum including weaving, pottery, carpentry, metalwork, mural painting, typography, as well as traditional art and architecture courses. He desired a “marriage between art and industry..design and production”. Theirs was a utopian vision, like the Suprematists and DeStijl artists before them, one whose embrace of the modern world was met with hostility by the traditional thinkers associated with Hitler and the Third Reich.
Spain -1936, Popular front won elections in Spain, then Gen Franco led an army revlt and 3 yrs of Civil War ensured between the Nationalists (army, church, industiralists) and Republicans (socialists, communists, anarchists, etc, supported by Basques and Catalans) -Hitler aided Franco and the nationalists -1937, Intl exh in Paris opened under govt of Blum a popular font alliance of socialists and communists against fascism -Spanish pavilion featured this work -made by Picasso in support of the Republican cause -recording the boming of the Basque town of Guernica by the German Condor Legion -this painted in 6 weeks, a hybrid of cubist-surrealist motifs -4 screaming women, dismembered soldier, horse in agony, bull staring -pyramidal mass of figures, muted range of blacks and gresy -cubust fragmeneation and surrealist distortion as political art -in front of Guernica, a Nzai soldier asked Picasso, “Did you do that?” Picasso is said to have replied, “No, you did”
America, 1930-1945 Grant Wood, American Gothic , 1930, oil, fig.14-34 Van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait , 1434
Used by US government to raise public funds for poor
Image of universal motherhood (Madonna and child?)
DOROTHEA LANGE, Migrant Mother, Nipomo Valley, 1935. Fig. 14-31. America, 1930-1945 "I wish she [Lange] hadn't taken my picture. I can't get a penny out of it. She didn't ask my name. She said she wouldn't sell the pictures. She said she'd send me a copy. She never did.“ -Florence Thompson
The African American experience & struggle against discrimination
Americans adapt European modernism
Cubist tension of space
JACOB LAWRENCE, No. 49, from The Migration of the Negro, 1940–1941. Fig. 14-33. America, 1930-1945 “ They also found discrimination In the North although it was much Different from what they had known in the South.” -caption accompanying image
Hitler & the War Against “Degenerate” Art Walter Gropius Shop Block, the Bauhaus, Dessau 1925-26, fig.14-37 Hitler touring the Degenerate Art exhibition, 1937
Europe, 1930 to 1945 PABLO PICASSO, Guernica, 1937. Fig. 14-19.