The DMA welcomes Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties inside its doors this March. The exhibit is the first of its kind, showcasing America fine art from the end of World War l through the beginning of the Great Depression. Youth and Beauty, organized by the Brooklyn Museum, will feature more than 130 works by more than 65 artists. The exhibition highlights a transitioning decade that was marked by urbanization and industrialization and features pieces that reveal the response to the era’s social transformation and how the artists, as visual creators, made sense of it. An illustrated catalogue, co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and Skira Rizzoli, also accompanies the exhibition.
Three works from Youth and Beauty are from the DMA’s collections including: Lighthouse Hill by Edward Hopper, Bather with Cigarette by Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Razor by Gerald Murphy.
Hopper was a prominent American realist painter. Born in Nyack, New York in a yacht-building center along the Hudson River, Hopper’s roots could later be seen as influential in his multiple seascape paintings. For six years Hopper studied under multiple teachers at the New York Institute of Art and Design, including Robert Henri who told him to forget about art and paint what interests him instead. Hopper took this advice and traveled to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1912 and painted his first outdoor piece. He later painted Squam Light, the first of many lighthouse paintings to come. Lighthouse Hill (1927) falls into one of three seascape categories Hopper employs – the others explore sailboats and more landscape-focused pieces.
Kuniyoshi was born in Okayama, Japan but came to the US at the age of 13 and later enrolled at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. Starting in 1910 Kuniyoshi began traveling and teaching both throughout New York and in Europe. By 1930 Kuniyoshi was internationally known both for his paintings and his work with graphic art. His early work showed a blend of Modernism and Orientalism, using humor to depict his interest in human life forms. He stayed with a darker color palette until 1930 when he adopted a broader range of color and became known for his still-life paintings of common objects and nudes. Kuniyoshi is also known for his female gallery, which includes the plump woman posing in his Youth and Beauty piece, Bather with Cigarette (1924).
Murphy took a bit of a different journey to finding himself as an artist. Born in Boston into a family who owned a fine leather company, Murphy never quite fit the build. He failed his entrance exams to Yale three times and later married Sara Wiborg, who belonged to a wealthy family who wasn’t supportive of their union. The couple eventually settled in New York then left for Paris where Murphy took up painting as he and Sara became submerged with the notable artists and writers of the Lost Generation. Murphy only painted from 1921 to 1929, but during that time he adopted a reputation for his hard-edged still-life paintings. Murphy’s Razor (1924), among others, hinted toward the pop art movement that would later emerge in 1950s.
Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties will run March 4 – May 27, 2012.
Dallas Museum of Art
Hours: Tue to Wed 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri to Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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