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Exhibition Review – America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s at the Royal Academy from 25th February to 4th June 2017

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The Royal Academy of Arts presents America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, an exhibition that chronicles how artists responded to the social, economic and political turmoil that dominated the decade following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The exhibition draws on paintings from collections across the USA, and showcases forty-five seminal paintings by some of the foremost artists of the era. For the very first time, Grant Wood’s iconic painting American Gothic, 1930 will be exhibited outside North America. The exhibition will also feature works by Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O’Keefe, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, Alice Neel and Jackson Pollock.

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The Great Depression of the 1930s created considerable economic insecurity and social hardship and artists were keen to chronicle the enormous changes taking place in America. The exhibition provides evidence of the diversity of art created in the period which included a variety of styles.

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America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s is arranged around a number of themes sections. New York offers a number of views in a modernist style including Stuart Davis’ New York-Paris No 3, 1931.  Industrial Life illustrates how the enormous growth in industrial manufacturing had raised a number of issues especially concerning labour.

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Urban Life captures the excitement and dynamism of the city and mass entertainment. Some artists began to question the capitalistic system and the Looking to the Past reveals how artists looked back at American history for inspiration.

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Other artists like Thomas Hart Benton began to document and idealise the rapidly disappearing rural America. Visions of Dystopia considers how some artists began to consider that American society was falling apart and Looking to the Future presents work by artists such as Arthur Dove and Jackson Pollock, who began to create abstract paintings that turned its back on the dominant figurative movement.

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Some of the highlights of the exhibition include Georgia O’Keeffe, Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses, 1931 (Art Institute of Chicago), Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Jackson Pollock, Untitled, c. 1938-41 (Art Institute of Chicago), Philip Guston, Bombardment, 1937 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940 (Museum of Modern Art , New York), Alice Neel, Pat Whalen, 1935 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and Thomas Hart Benton, Cotton Pickers, 1945 (Private Collection).

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It seems a very appropriate time to assess America’s response to crisis, the present day and the 1930s have some distinct parallels. In both cases, there is a questioning of what is the American identity and this fascinating exhibition provides a variety of artistic responses. It is somewhat paradoxical that there is often more creativity and experimentation in times of crisis and the exhibition offers plenty of opportunities to consider how art can often be used as prism to consider wider issues.

Our Video Review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Royal Academy website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review : Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy – 24th September 2016 to 2nd January 2017

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The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major exhibition of Abstract Expressionism to be held in the UK in almost sixty years . The exhibition features over 150 paintings, sculptures and photographs from public and private collections across the world and includes works  by acclaimed American artists including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Phillip Guston, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith and Clyfford Still.

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In 1946, critic Robert Coates coined the term  ‘Abstract  Expressionism’  to describe a new  movement in American art.  The artists who were considered part of this movement did not follow a particular school of painting but were generally Americans living through the politically turbulent times of the 1940s,50s and 60s.

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Arshile Gorky was considered one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism by the way that he was able to create a synthesis between various trends such as Cubism and Surrealism.

Three of the first seven rooms of the exhibition are given over to the three most famous names of the movement. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko all bought their own originality to creating works that began to challenge some of the traditional views of painting.

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Jackson Pollock developed a process  of painting that involved a canvas being laid onto the ground and paint being dropped onto the canvas to create intricate webs of paint that built up into a complex tangle of paint and colour.  Pollock’s monumental  Mural (1943) and Blue Poles ( 1952) are shown in the same gallery for the first time in the exhibition.

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Willem de Kooning’s  work often turns its back on pure abstract by alternating between abstraction and figurative. Like many artists, he was inspired by the female form and many of his works such as Woman II ( 1952) have an erotic aspect.

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Mark Rothko maintained many of his paintings were ‘facades’ and the way that the artist created a painting of seemingly simple blocks of colour would suggest they could be taken merely on their ‘face value’. However they create a number of complex responses from the viewer who is often drawn into the picture.

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Many of the other rooms in the exhibition explore some of the many responses of artists to their surroundings in post war America. Gesture as Colour, The Violent Mark and  Darkness Visible  illustrate how some artists responded to the often violent times and urban life.

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Works by Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still are featured in the later rooms with sculptures by David Smith being used in many rooms and outside in the courtyard.

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Whilst Abstract Expressionism is rooted in post war America, it has since garnered universal appeal with some of the best known artists achieving ‘iconic’ status. This exhibition brings together works that illustrate that a diverse group of artists created a particular response to the troubled times they lived in.  Since the growth of interest in Abstract Expressionism, it had tended to divide opinion and is often criticised for being too simplistic. Others admire the often monumental scale of the works and their spontaneity and energy.

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This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to make their own minds up with one of the largest shows of Abstract Expressionism works ever seen in the UK.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Opening Times

10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)

Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)

Admission

£17 full price (£15 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available;

Children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Academy website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Bakersfield Mist at the Duchess Theatre – 10 May 2014 to 30 August 2014

eventImage_175                   Duchess Theatre,  3-5 Catherine Street,  London, WC2B 5LA

 Based on a true story, this new play by Stephen Sachs asks  questions about  what is Art ? and peoples perceptions of Art. Bakersfield Mist  marks the welcome return to the London stage of multi award-winner Kathleen Turner for the first time since her acclaimed performance in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She will play opposite Olivier and Tony award-winner Ian McDiarmid  directed by Evening Standard award-winner, Polly Teale.

Maude, a fifty-something unemployed bartender, has bought a painting for a few bucks from the thrift store. Despite almost trashing it, she now thinks it’s a Jackson Pollock worth millions. In fact she’s certain it is. But when world-class art expert, Lionel Percy, flies over from New York and arrives at her trailer park home in Bakersfield to authenticate the painting, he really has no idea what he is about to discover.

Duchess Theatre From 10 May 2014 to 30 August 2014

For further information and Tickets visit the Theatre Website Here