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среда, 18 января 2017 г.

Expo: the two faces of America of the 30s

"Cotton Pickers" Thomas Hart Benton, 1945.DR
In full crisis of the 1930s, artists from overseas celebrated the lifestyle and traditional American virtues. A painting that reaction was not convinced at the time.
The same causes the same effects: it must go to emergency exposure "American Painting 1930" being held at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.The mirror effect is striking. Aesthetic, often contradictory issues that cross this troubled period in the history of the United States to have a context distrust of democracy, following the stock market crash of October 1929. In the background, there are the same symptoms who now agitate America and Western countries after the economic crisis of 2008: withdrawal, growing populism gap between city dwellers and those campaigns, return of religion ... and finally, the Brexit and Donald Trump's election.

Opening and displays include the Grant Wood's iconic work entitled "American Gothic" representative, at close range, a farmer and his daughter in front of their house with Gothic Revival chapel-like. An iconic canvas depicted a thousand times and a hundred times diverted, which had not, until now, never left the Art Institute of Chicago. The illustration for Americans the epitome of national identity as it glorifies the small farmers of the Midwest, considered holders of the pioneering values ​​of the country. A solid composition to the meticulous technique, like the German and Flemish paintings of the sixteenth century so admired its author called "Hans Memling Iowa" by critics. In fact, this staging, conducted in 1930, shows an agricultural world then over, and the protagonists are represented sister and dentist painter, chosen for their austere mine. This work of Wood symbolizes the spirit of the regionalist movement which, via a post-impressionist figuration, favors local subjects and the traditional rural way of life, in reaction to the rise of industrial cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.
1934 Barbara Stevenson (American artist, ) Apple Vendor, 1933-34

Wood form with painters Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry the winning trio of this frozen movement. But while himself, through a naive style close to that of Rousseau, maintains the image of an idyllic countryside with small villages and farms where farmers get their plows, Benton willingly represents workers in fields full action, cowboys on their horses, musicians ... bastringue activating the legend of an unchanging culture. As for Curry, he is also interested in manners of a strong community around the same references. Also, regionalist painters will they be the first to benefit from the campaign for the creation of works of art launched in 1932 as part of the New Deal promoted by President Franklin Roosevelt, to decorate public buildings, courts , hospitals, schools, and more than 1100 post offices. The authorities encourage rural or industrial subjects with an optimistic outlook.

To his detractors, regionalism appears in more than one way, as an artistic impasse, significantly the rise of conservatism. One of its main destroyers, cubist artist Stuart Davis, close to the avant-garde gathered around the New York gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, compares this painting to a local propaganda art falling, he writes, "brainwashing chauvinist, vicious and deceitful. " The experimenter, who, among others, signed the painting titled "Paris-New York" (1931) Cubism and combining objects of American culture, prefers to draw parallels between a multicultural American society, founded on immigration, and a pluralist approach art. A controversy violently opposes Benton, particularly through the pages of "Time". He blames the regionalist their narrow mentality and poor technique. "How can we paint as if there had never been a working laboratory in painting? How can we not take into account [...] the discoveries of Monet, Seurat, Cezanne and Picasso? [...] How can a man who has this spirit to bring something to the evolution of American painting? "He wrote. irreconcilable points of view? Not so much because, alongside the debate between nationalists and internationalists, figurative and abstract, many critics and artists are convinced that there is a revealing American artistic specificity of its economic power.

 In the 1940s American abstract expressionism appears that will become the flagship of the free world against the Russian bloc

Or, as shown in the exposure of the Orangerie Museum, other painters, during this decade, offering a less nostalgic face of America, including Arthur Dove and his almost abstract landscapes, Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler through geometrized the very figuration of industrial sites, Georgia O'Keeffe with stylized flowers and skulls of cattle, or Edward Hopper striking, with a pronounced art of staging, the loneliness of living in large cities. Stuart Davis himself, during a stay in France, includes the immense vitality of America as opposed to Europe. World War II, with immigration, the United States, the most avant-garde European artists allows this third way to flourish. In the 1940s American abstract expressionism appears that will become the flagship of the free world against the Russian bloc, before the pop art in the early 1960s, glorifies the American consumer society. But that's another story. 

"The American painting of the 1930s The Age of Anxiety" Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris I, until 30 January 2017.© DR

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