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How did American artists represent the Jazz Age? The exhibition Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties brings together for the first time the work of sixty-eight painters, sculptors, and photographers who explored a new mode of modern realism in the years bounded by the aftermath of the Great War and the onset of the Great Depression. Throughout the 1920s, artists created images of liberated modern bodies and the changing urban-industrial environment with an eye toward ideal form and ordered clarity—qualities seemingly at odds with a riotous decade best remembered for its flappers and Fords.
Artists took as their subjects uninhibited nudes and close-up portraits that celebrated sexual freedom and visual intimacy, as if in defiance of the restrictive routines of automated labor and the stresses of modern urban life. Reserving judgment on the ultimate effects of machine culture on the individual, they distilled cities and factories into pristine geometric compositions that appear silent and uninhabited. American artists of the Jazz Age struggled to express the experience of a dramatically remade modern world, demonstrating their faith in the potentiality of youth and in the sustaining value of beauty. Youth and Beauty will present 140 works by artists including Thomas Hart Benton, Imogen Cunningham, Charles Demuth, Aaron Douglas, Edward Hopper, Gaston Lachaise, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Luigi Lucioni, Gerald Murphy, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston.
The exhibition was organized by Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum.
Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties is also made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Exhibition Fund, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation, Inc., Sotheby’s, the Norman M. Feinberg Exhibition Fund, and an anonymous donor. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The accompanying catalogue is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and a Brooklyn Museum publications endowment established by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.