American Art In the 1920's American Realism and the Birth of American Modernism
There were important changes in American art during the nineteen twenties. Economic growth gave many Americans the money to buy art for their homes for the first time. Sixty new museums opened. Slowly, Americans learned about serious art. Actually, American art had been changing in important ways since the beginning of the century. American Realism attempted to portray the exhaustion and cultural exuberance of the figurative American landscape and the life of ordinary Americans at home. Artists used the feelings, textures and sounds of the city to influence the color, texture and look of their creative projects. Musicians noticed the quick and fast paced nature of the early 20th century and responded with a fresh and new tempo. Writers and authors told a new story about Americans; boys and girls real Americans could have grown up with. Pulling away from fantasy and focusing on the now, American Realism presented a new gateway and a breakthrough — introducing modernism, and what it means to be in the present.
American Realism : was a turn of the century idea in art, music and literature that showed through these different types of work, reflections of the time period. Whether it was a cultural portrayal, or a scenic view of downtown New York City, these images and works of literature, music and painting depicted a contemporary view of what was happening; an attempt at defining what was real. This new generation of artists were interested in creating new and more urbane works that reflected city life and a population that was more urban than rural in America as it entered the new century.
A group of these artists from New York City came together to form the Ashcan school the They sought to capture the feel of turn-of-the-century New York City, through realistic and un-glamorized portraits of everyday life. These artists were not only depicting the rich and promising Fifth Avenue socialites, but the lower class richly and culturally textured immigrants. One critic of the time did not like their choice of subjects, which included alleys, tenements, slum dwellers, and in the case of John Sloan, taverns frequented by the working class. The following artists participated in the Ashcan School: Henri William, Glacken Edward Hopper (a student of Henri) Everett Shinn John French Sloan, George Luks, George Bellows (another student of Henri), Mabel Dwight
Another important group of modern artists was led by the great photographer Alfred Stieglitz. This group held a major art show in nineteen thirteen in New York, Chicago, and Boston. The show presented modern art from Europe. Americans got their first chance to see the work of such painters as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The show caused a huge public debate in the United States. Traditional art critics accused the organizers of the show of trying to overthrow Christianity and American values. Former president Theodore Roosevelt and others denounced the new art as a threat to the country. However, many young American painters and art lovers did not agree. They became very interested in the new art styles from Europe. They studied them closely. Soon, Charles Demuth , Joseph Stella , and other American painters began to produce excellent art in the new Cubist style . John Marin painted beautiful views of sea coasts in New York, and such artists as Max Weber and Georgia O'Keeffe painted in styles that seemed to come more from their own imagination than from reality. As with writing, the work of many of these serious modern painters only became popular many years later.