We feature American paintings and works on paper from the 1920s to the 1950s with special interest in the Urban/Industrial Scene, Modernism, Atelier 17, Surrealism, and African American work.
Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950
George Biddle, Whoopee at Sloppy Jo's, 1933
Ben Shahn, Nearly Everyone Reads the Bulletin, 1946
Philadelphia Museum of Art
On view through September 3, 2018
It was so nice to go to an exhibition in the middle of its run and not the last hours, and it was so nice that it was the fabulous Modern Times show in Philadelphia curated by Jessica Todd Smith.
This is a huge area for one exhibition ranging from the Ashcan School, the earliest days of Modernism, the Jazz Age, the urban scene of the New Deal era, right up to the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism. Drawn from the Museum’s collection and promised gifts, the show features Philadelphia’s role in the art of this period and benefits from the many women and African-American artists included, with both well known and totally new (to me at least) pieces: paintings, drawings, lots of wonderful prints that add enormously to the show, photographs, furniture, and costumes.
The exhibition is organized thematically. In ‘Modern Life’ there were beach scenes and actual 1920s bathing suits, George Biddle’s Whoopee at Sloppy Jo’s, from 1933 – the year Prohibition ended, and Ben Shahn’s Nearly Everyone Reads the Bulletin, 1946. (The Bulletin was a Philadelphia newspaper but the composition is based on a scene Shahn photographed in NY’s Washington Square Park.) The wonderful pair, Arthur B. Davies’ Daphnes of the Ravine, 1922, and Max Weber’s Group of Figures, 1911, left, as well as Marguerite Zorach’s Girl and Cat, 1919, were in ‘The Animated Figure’ section.
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