What is American art? That is a question the country’s artists asked and answered in myriad ways during the decade spanning the economic crash of 1929 through America’s entry into World War II. With economic downturn at home and the rising threat of fascism abroad, artists of the time applied their individualized visions of the nation to rethinking modernism. This exhibition brings together 50 works by some of the foremost artists of the era—including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Grant Wood—to examine the landscape of the United States during the Great Depression and the many avenues artists explored as they sought to forge a new national art and identity.
Collectively, the aesthetically and politically varied works produced in the 1930s paint a revealing portrait of the nation’s evolving psyche. ... Some artists reinvigorated the revolt against representational style, championing nonobjective art as a form that spoke deeply to modern concerns. The Park Avenue Cubists continued to evolve a European-based abstraction, and modernists such as Stuart Davis and Charles Demuth applied a precise, geometric vocabulary to American architecture and advertising.
Bringing these diverse works of art together, America after the Fall tells the story of a nation’s fall from grace and irrevocable changes to the American dream. Following its installation at the Art Institute, the exhibition travels to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and London’s Royal Academy, marking the first time many of these iconic American works—including Grant Wood’s American Gothic—have journeyed beyond North America. ... The presentation affords a trailblazing look at the turbulent economic, political, and aesthetic world of the 1930s and the critical and dynamic process of rethinking modernism that it fostered.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website