New York and 20th Century Art

New York and 20th Century Art
The artists of the 20thc were unlike their predecessors painting the American West, in that many emigrated to America, some in response to war. I will discuss their contribution to art history.

During the late 19thc and early 20thc a group of artists known as "the Eight" started the Ashcan (or Ash Can) School, capturing scenes of daily life in New York. Some who joined later were George Bellows and Edward Hopper.

In the early 20thc American photographer Alfred Stieglitz would capture the modernization of the city with "Old and New New York" (1910).

French avant-garde painter Francis Picabia said of New York in 1913, that it was "a cubist, futurist city," and "America's modern masterpiece."

Italian-born American Futurist artist Joseph Stella painted the iconic New York landmark "Brooklyn Bridge" (1919-1920), from his "American Landscape" series of six (6) large-scale paintings of bridges, besides making sketches in pencil, pastel, charcoal, and watercolor.

WWI (1914-1918) or "The Great War" and WWII (1939-1945) caused many artists to flee Europe with the hope of gaining artistic freedom in the US.

American Impressionist Childe Hassam painted a patriotic scene with "Early Morning on the Avenue in May 1917" of American flags flying on 5th Avenue. This is one of a series of thirty (30) flag paintings, from an American's interpretation of French Impressionism.

In 1935, during WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the Works Progress Administration (WPA), where the government hired 10,000+ artists.

The New York region supported abstract work such as murals by Arshile Gorky, an American of Armenian descent. Gorky's ten-part "Aviation: Evolution of Forms under Aerodynamic Limitations" (1937) is a fine example of such work.

Many Surrealists lived in NYC during WWII, including male artists Leger, Chagall, Mondrian, Ernst, Dali, Arp, Duchamp, Tanguy, and the woman artist Dorothea Tanning.

The New York School was an informal group of avant-garde artists in the 1940s that evolved into Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s. The list of these groundbreaking artists is long – the men: Pollack, de Kooning, Rothko, Kline, Still, Mitchell, Newman, Newman, Reinhardt, Francis, and women: Nevelson and Krasner. No wonder the story of art was changed forever.

I'll leave you with -
"The Heart of Rock & Roll" (1983) sung by Huey Lewis and the News

"New York, New York, is everything they say And no place that I’d rather be Where else can you do a half a million things All at a quarter to three…"

Such is the allure of New York!

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