Youth and Beauty: Art of the American TwentiesRestaurant |
Expertly-curated showcase of the American 1920s' contradictions.
Curation often works best when it's invisible; the art speaks for itself. But with The Brooklyn Museum's Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, curator Teresa A. Carbone provides contextual backbone to reveal additional depth. This showcase of paintings, sculpture, and photography highlights the many contradictions that plagued American identity in the years of relative comfort following the Great War. Some contradictions are largely artistic - Guy Pène du Bois's triptych of beach scenes captures the desire to embrace modernity without eschewing classical forms - but most contradictions are rooted in psychological and societal confusion. A series of still life paintings focused on consumer items reveals the begrudging acceptance of a burgeoning advertising industry, a nascent irony Warhol would later master. The explosion of erotic interest in a still-conservative country emerges from Georgia O'Keefe's photographs or the Jazz Age women. Ambivalence towards technology colors intricate depictions of urban life that glorify human accomplishment while lamenting the diminished individual. But most poignant and consistent is the mournfulness winding through even the most excitable paintings. The exhibit's overarching themes transcend the aesthetic thanks to a masterful curation that presents the work as interdisciplinary, emphasizing historical and psychological change while still appreciating the technique and vision of artists trying to capture a changing world.