Charming Observations speaks of the very personal, even whimsical, observations of landscapes, interiors, and still lifes artists of the 1930s and 1940s were able to make through Modernism’s break with traditional depictions of space, representative color, and accurate details. The 1930s-1940s works in our exhibition were selected for their expression of the positive spirit that characterizes America, obvious experimentation with Modernism, and underlying joy spiritualized and transmitted into art. The exhibition will be on view beginning September 6th.
The American Modernist movement began around 1910 and continued to develop through the 1940s. It was fast moving and multi-dimensional, passing through stylistic developments of Fauvism, Cubism, German Expressionism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. American artists studied these new styles in Europe and brought them back to the United States. Simultaneously European artists immigrated to the United States, bringing modernist concepts with them.
Our exhibition focuses on over thirty paintings created during the 1930s-1940s period. The selected paintings both embrace Modernism and recognize that despite significant hardship during this time, life is full of wonder and joy. In these decades artists took diverse paths to reconcile the theory and methods of European Modernism with America’s culture and realist visual tradition. The art that resulted from trying new approaches and using imagination was diverse and personal. It encompassed the primitivism of folk art, Regionalism, expressive Cubism, and geometric or biomorphic abstraction. American artists took what was most useful and relevant to their particular needs, whether narrative or compositional, literary or technical. Modernism offered a flexibility of vision at a time of Nationalism in which American history, culture, and values were all expressed in art.