Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties is the first wide-ranging examination of American fine art from the end of World War I through the start of the Great Depression. This nationally touring exhibition, featuring more than 130 works of painting, sculpture, and photography by more than sixty-five artists, will demonstrate how American artists of the period embraced a progressive, idealized realism visible in a resurgence of figuration and in highly distilled images of American places and things. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, Youth and Beauty will include three works from the DMA’s collections.
The 1920s—“The Jazz Age,” “The Roaring Twenties”—was a decade marked by widespread urbanization, industrialization and mechanization, and social phenomena including the postwar collapse of traditional ideals, the rampant materialism of the Calvin Coolidge era, and the collision of rural and urban environments. American life was dramatically transformed, and American artists responded to this dizzying modern world with works that emphatically demonstrate a desire for clarity and wholeness and for the expression of stillness and order.
The thorough integration of painting, sculpture, and photography throughout the exhibition, and the critical attention devoted to a broad array of artists, from such leading figures as Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Hart Benton, Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Sheeler, Imogen Cunningham, and Man Ray, to lesser-known artists including Margrethe Mather, George Ault, Aaron Douglas, Elsie Driggs, and Peter Blume, will illuminate common themes and shared characteristics. Works of art in the DMA’s collections featured in Youth and Beauty include Lighthouse Hill by Edward Hopper, Bather with Cigarette by Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Razor by Gerald Murphy.
Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and Skira Rizzoli, featuring essays by the exhibition’s organizing curator, Teresa A. Carbone, the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art and Managing Curator, Arts of the Americas and Europe at the Brooklyn Museum; Dr. Sarah M. Lowe, a leading historian of modernist photography; Dr. Bonnie Costello, Professor of English, Boston University; and Dr. Randall R. Griffey, Curator of American Art, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College. The curator of the Dallas presentation is Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art.