The Philadelphia Museum of Art is currently showing Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950. A survey of American Art History from the first half of the Twentieth Century, the exhibit explores a notable time of transition for the art world. The exhibition focuses on different segments of society and culture and the unique new forms of art that portrayed them.
The American Modernism movement was famous for playing with shape, color, and dimension. Discarding traditional rules of classical artistic composition, artists re-imagined landscapes, models, objects, and scenes through both a change in perspective, as well innovative, bold, and non-traditional hues. The exhibition explores not just paintings but also pair’s works with fashion and furniture to show the modernization of American culture during this time and how art influenced life.
Through dramatic shapes and colors, the subject becomes traditionally unrecognizable and blurs the lines between the form and background. Artists boldly brought background to foreground and stillness to life in their interpretations. One of the best examples of this is Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 3) by Marcel Duchamp. In 1913, Duchamp shocked and perplexed the art world with his painting of the female form; a radical representation displaying a fragmented female figure in motion with only slightly discernible body parts.
Another example of these modern figures is Male and Female by Jackson Pollock. While perhaps considered slightly more traditional in shape than Duchamp’s, the human forms depicted play with both shape and color as the male is a straighter figure and the female is more curved. Allow yourself time to fully explore all it has to offer with artists that viewed the world in constant motion, rather than simply moments frozen in time.
Modern Times: American Art 1910 – 1950: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Now through September 3rd 2018.