Georgia Museum of Art

University of Georgia

Athens, GA



In the City: Urban Views 1900-1940


"In the City: Urban Views 1900-1940" will be on view at the Georgia Museum of Art from November 9, 2000, until January 14, 2001. This exhibition is part of the Whitney Museum of American Art's Collection Touring Program begun in early 1999. (left: William J. Glackens, Parade, Washington Square, 1912, oil on canvas)

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, is named for founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an accomplished sculptor and leading patron and collector of early 20th century art. She primarily supported artists who, working in a realist mode, broke away from the refined idealism of more traditional, academic art, and explored urban life, commonplace subject matter and socially minded themes in their work. In 1914 she established the Whitney Studio, her first art gallery. The studio soon became a gathering place for artists, both established and up-and-coming. Many artists of the period, including Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh, and John Sloan, had their first solo exhibitions at the Studio and in successor organizations, the Whitney Studio Club and Whitney Studio Galleries. In 1931 Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney opened the Whitney Museum of American Art and donated her collection of 700 works by these masters. These first works still stand as one of the most comprehensive collections of early 20th-century American art in the world.

In the City: Urban Views 1900-1940 features works from the first forty years of the 20th century, a time when America was shaken by political and cultural changes that remain unmatched to this day. World War I, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, and World War II all occurred, and the advent of motion pictures, jazz, and widespread availability of new technology such as electricity and the telephone, forever changed Western culture.

At the same time that technology was transforming the American way of life, the cities were changing as people moved away from their agrarian roots and into more industrial areas. The nouveau riche of the first two decades enjoyed luxurious lifestyles, while recent immigrants, both to the United States and to cities themselves, moved into crowded tenements.

During the difficult Depression years themes of social consciousness dominated American art. Having lost their jobs, many artists found work in the government-sponsored Works Progress Administration (WPA). The cities and their shifting populations were a never-ending source of inspiration to artists, who responded to the new visions of a country in search of its cultural identity.

This exhibition traces artists' responses to the turbulent and energetic urban settings of America through the first four decades of the 20th century. The American artists who first turned their attention to city life were a group of progressive artists who became known as the Ashcan school for their realistic and honest portrayals of modern city life. Robert Henri, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, George Luks and others painted urban life exactly as they saw it, breaking with the traditional ideals of academic idealism.

The first 40 years of the 20th century in America were a time of tremendous urban turmoil, technological advancement, and war. The art of In the City: Urban Views 1900-1940 reflects this hectic yet visionary era in American history. This exhibition, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, is generously sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation, Atlanta, an anonymous member of the Director's Circle, and Mr. and Mrs. H. Jack Turner and will be on view in the Virginia and Alfred Kennedy and Philip Henry Alston, Jr. Galleries.

Read more about the Georgia Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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