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Modern Times

Modern Times - Thomas Hart Benton - BurlesqueBurlesque, c. 1922, by Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889 – 1975. Tempera on panel, 9 1/2x 12 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Edward Suckle, M.D., 2002-91-1. © T. H. Benton and R. P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / UMB Bank Trustee / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: April 18—September 3, 2018

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition exploring the creative responses of American artists to the rapid pace of change that occurred in this country during the early decades of the twentieth century. Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950 examines the new and dynamic visual language that emerged during this period and had a dramatic impact on painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, architecture, and the decorative arts. These developments were shaped by the dizzying transformations then occurring in every aspect of life, from the advent of the automobile and moving pictures to the rapid growth of American cities and the wrenching economic change brought on by the advent of the Great Depression after a decade of unprecedented prosperity. The exhibition features important works by those artists—Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, among them—championed by the great photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, as well as many other notable figures of this period. Modern Times is drawn almost entirely from the Museum’s renowned collection, especially the gift from the Stieglitz Collection that it received in the late 1940s, and contains 156 works, several of which will be on view for the first time.

Modern Times, Alexander Calder, Portrait of Carl ZigrosserPortrait of Carl Zigrosser (1891 – 1975), c. 1928, by Alexander Calder, American, 1898 – 1976. wire, 14 x 10 1/2 x 10 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1980-3-141. © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “America’s embrace of modern life—its perils as well as its promise—in the early twentieth century was expressed most clearly in the arts. The work of this period still feels fresh and of the moment. This exhibition provides us with a welcome opportunity to reassess the Museum’s exceptionally rich holdings of modern American art and how we may display them to full advantage in the future when the Museum completes its expansion under its Master Plan. It also holds the promise of many surprises and discoveries for our visitors.”

Modern Times, Stuart Davis, Something on the Eight BallSomething on the Eight Ball, 1953-1954, by Stuart Davis, American, 1892 – 1964. Oil on canvas, 56 × 45 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Adele Haas Turner and Beatrice Pastorius Turner Memorial Fund, 1954-30-1. © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

While the Museum has presented a number of exhibitions devoted to this subject over the years, Modern Times is the largest and most comprehensive since it presented the collection of Alfred Stieglitz in 1944. The exhibition opens with the achievements of some of the leading figures of “The Eight,” including John Sloan and George Bellows, who recorded the changing urban scene with a gritty realism as horse carts gave way to motor vehicles on city streets.

Modern Times, Beauford Delaney, Portrait of James BaldwinPortrait of James Baldwin, 1945, by Beauford Delaney, American (active Paris), 1901 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by The Daniel W. Dietrich Foundation in memory of Joseph C. Bailey and with a grant from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, 1998-3-1

The exhibition emphasizes those artists—among them Charles Demuth, Morton Schamberg, Charles Sheeler, Benton Spruance, and Paul Strand—who responded to the Armory Show of 1913 and the influence of the European avant garde by seeking to give modernism an authentic American voice. Offering a broader perspective on American art of this period, the exhibition explores the achievements of important African American figures, such as Aaron Douglas, William Edmondson, Horace Pippin and Dox Thrash. It also looks at cross-currents within the arts, including contemporary fashion and design, and work by female artists such as O’Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer, Frances Simpson Stevens, Kay Sage, and Dorothea Tanning.

Modern Times, Charles Demuth, Lancaster (In the Province No. 2)Lancaster (In the Province No. 2), 1920, by Charles Demuth, American, 1883 – 1935. Oil on canvas, 30 x 16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950-5-1.

One section of the exhibition takes a close look at the many artists who explored in their work the abstract qualities of rhythm, light, and sound. Some of their aesthetic strategies were employed to create dynamic still lifes, enlivening what was commonly considered a static genre. Another section explores the expressive use of color, focusing on Arthur Beecher Carles, Henry Breckenridge, and Henry McCarter who stretched the boundaries of artistic tradition by relieving color of its purely descriptive function. These three artists, each of whom lived and worked in Philadelphia, reflected this city’s active engagement with progressive trends in American art. In fact, the significant role that Philadelphia played in the history of American modernism is echoed throughout the exhibition. It includes works by Philadelphia-born artists such as Man Ray and Alexander Calder who became prominent abroad, where they were closely aligned with modern movements in Europe, and others who remained in the city in which the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts provided a center of energy and a place to teach.

Modern Times, Aaron Doulgas, Birds in FlightBirds in Flight, c. 1927-1929, by Aaron Douglas, American, 1899 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 16 1/4 x 14 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest in honor of Anne d’Harnoncourt, 2015-7-1. © Heirs of Aaron Douglas / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Modern Times, Arthur Dove, Chinese MusicChinese Music, 1923, by Arthur Dove, American, 1880 -1946. Oil and metallic paint on panel, 21 11/16 x 18 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-2.

Landscape painting was, likewise, revolutionized by the artists of this generation, who found in this traditional genre a sustained source of inspiration. The adaptation of the modernist vision to one of the most enduring themes in American art can be seen most dramatically in works by O’Keeffe, Hartley, and Arthur Dove. Others, such as Sheeler, took the stark, yet impressive geometry of the new industrial landscape as a point of departureThe exhibition also examines another familiar subject, the human figure, which proved to be of abiding interest to the artists of this generation. Included in this rich and fascinating section is a group of portraits by artists such as Milton Avery, Beauford Delaney, and John Graham.

Modern Times, Wharton Esherick, Of a Great CityOf a Great City, 1923, by Wharton H. Esherick, American, 1887 – 1970. Wood engraving, image: 9 15/16 x 6 5/16 inches, sheet: 11 7/16 x 7 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1979-12-11.

Modern Times, Marsden Hartley, Painting No 4 (Black Horse)Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley, American, 1877 -1943. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 31 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-8

Jessica Todd Smith, The Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art, and Manager, Center for American Art, who organized the exhibition, said: “Modernism changed the way people saw the world around them. Artists pushed their work in new directions, embracing abstraction, while retaining connections to artistic traditions. This exhibition focuses on interrelationships among works of art rather than a single linear narrative. In fact, it gives voice to multiple narratives because the evolution and experimentation in the art of this period is especially fluid. This stylistic pluralism, the beautiful chaos of innovation, was a hallmark of the modern American movement.”

 Modern Times, Alice Neel, Portrait of John with HatPortrait of John with Hat, 1935, by Alice Neel, American, 1900 – 1984. Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of the estate of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1993-119-2.

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, Red and Orange StreakRed and Orange Streak, 1919, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 27 x 23 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987-70-3.

Publication

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication, American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Jessica Todd Smith. It is published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press ( 272 pp.) The title of the essay, “Seeing Takes Time” is inspired by a quotation of Georgia O’Keeffe: “Nobody sees a flower—really—it is so small—we haven’t time—and to see takes time . . . “

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, Red Hills and BonesRed Hills and Bones, 1943, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 29 3/4 x 40 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-109.

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, From the Lake No. 3From the Lake No. 3, 1924, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987-70-2.

With 120 color and 10 black-and-white illustrations, American Modernism is the first book to showcase this outstanding aspect of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was one of the first major museums in this country to acquire what we now call American Modernism. It tells a story that is unique to the Museum, examining the collection’s development since the 1920s and the role that the city of Philadelphia played in promoting modernism in the first half of the twentieth century. While previous publications have focused on European and American modernism, this one considers what it meant to be American and to be modern, exploring how these artists challenged convention without abandoning recognizable elements from the world around them.

Modern Times, Horace Pippin, The GetawayThe Getaway, 1939, by Horace Pippin, American, 1888 – 1946. Oil on canvas, 24 5/8 x 36 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II, 2016-3-3.

Modern Times, Man Ray, A.D. 1914A.D. 1914, 1914, by May Ray, American, 1890 – 1976. Oil on canvas, 36 7/8 x 69 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1944-90-1.

In addition to focusing on internationally acclaimed artists from the circle of photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, including Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Sheeler, Smith also considers those who contributed significantly to the art of the United States during their day but have been left outside the mainstream of art history, whether due to their race, gender, or social standing.

Modern Times, Charles Sheeler, Pertaining to Yachts and YachtingPertaining to Yachts and Yachting, 1922, by Charles Sheeler, American, 1883 – 1965. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 1/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Margaretta S. Hinchman, 1955-96-9.

American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art is now available online via philamuseum.org or in the Museum Store (paper-over-board, $35).

Modern Times, John Sloan, Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth StreetSixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street, 1907, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 32 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Meyer P. Potamkin and Vivian O. Potamkin, 2000. 1964-116-5.

Modern Times, John Sloan, The White WayThe White Way, c. 1926, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 32 1/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mrs. Cyrus McCormick, 1946-10-2.

Exhibition Location

Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor

 Modern Times, Alfred Stieglitz, The City of AmbitionThe City of Ambition, 1910 (negative); c. 1930 (print), by Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1871 – 1944. Gelatin silver print, image/sheet/mount: 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-47.

Modern Times, Paul Strand, The Court, New YorkThe Court, New York, 1924 (negative); 1960s (print), by Paul Strand, American, 1890 – 1976. Gelatin silver print, image (sight): 9 1/2 x 7 7/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 – 1975, gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980-21-42.

Support

This exhibition has been made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, Lyn M. Ross, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, The Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, and two anonymous donors.

Modern Times, Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel'sModern Times, Dox Thrash, DemolitionDemolition, c. 1944, by Dox Thrash, American, 1893 – 1965. Oil on canvas board, 26 x 20 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Katharine Levin Farrell Fund, 2002-97-1.

Exhibition-related education programming was generously supported by the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Social Media
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We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Modern Times, Lloyd Ullberg, PSFS Building, PhiladelphiaPSFS Building, Philadelphia, c.1932 – 1933, by Lloyd Ullberg, American, 1904-1996. Gelatin silver print, image and sheet:10 x 7 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund, 1999-121-3.

Modern Times, Artist-maker unknown, Cocktail Shaker with HandleCocktail Shaker with Handle, c.1930s, Artist/maker unknown, American. Chromium, Bakelite, 12 x 6 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Martina Schaap Yamin, 2013-28-66a,b.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call 215-763-8100.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post. Click the images for large pictures.

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Community

kere4Laongo CSPS Clinic, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré ArchitecturePhiladelphia Museum of Art

The Architecture of Francis Kéré, Building for Community, Philadelphia Museum of Art

May 14 – September 25, 2016, Collab GalleryPhiladelphia Museum of Art

Francis Kéré is an internationally renowned, Berlin ­based architect who integrates traditional knowledge and craft skills into innovative and sustainable buildings worldwide. As the first son of the head of Gando, his home village in Burkina Faso, he was the only child allowed to attend school in a large city; he later studied architecture in Europe. While still a student, he began to reinvest his knowledge back into his community, building schools that would change its future trajectory.

In Gando, Kéré combined traditional Burkinabé building techniques with modern engineering methods, maximizing local materials and community participation to reduce costs and ecological impact—a practice common to many of the projects highlighted in this exhibition. His work in Gando has become a catalyst for further development: the men and women he trained in construction techniques can now use their skills to earn incomes for their families. Students in his schools have gone on to pursue higher education and aspire to circumstances that were considered impossible before.   kere7Primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso, completed 2001, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Harnessing the success of the Gando initiative, Kéré founded his Berlin office in 2005 and has since garnered acclaim for his work elsewhere in Western Africa and, more recently, in Europe and North America. He is the recipient of the 2014 Schelling Architecture Foundation Award, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, and the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, among others.

kere3Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

This school consists of nine modules that house a series of classrooms and administrative offices. The laterite stone walls, undulating off-white ceiling, and unique wind-towers exponentially reduce the interior temperature.

Secondary School, 2007 / Dano

Consisting of three classrooms, a computer room, and office space, this school is built mostly of widely available laterite stone and features a permeable ceiling, a corrugated sheet roof, and shaded windows that ensure natural ventilation. The laterite refining process and the ventilation system illustrate Kéré’s innovative techniques utilizing local handicraft.

Francis Kéré, Building for CommunityGando School Extension, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Primary School , 2001 / Gando

To ensure a natural and sustainable cooling system in an extremely hot region, the roof over the classrooms is elevated from the interior construction; underneath, a perforated clay ceiling allows for maximum ventilation.

Canopy Shelter and Shade

The tree is a primal form of shelter. Four fundamental elements of architecture can be extracted from the various parts of the tree: canopy, structure, gathering place, and shadow. The canopy, as a general concept of various roof and ceiling enclosures, is an architectural cornerstone in Kéré’s work. Constructions in hot, arid places like Burkina Faso depend on innovative shade-making devices that allow ventilation and cooling without the need for electricity, as well as overhangs that provide protection from torrential rains. This video’s skyward perspective presents the importance of canopies in Burkina Faso, from village trees to traditional ceilings made of clay and thatch, to Kéré’s roof constructions at different stages of completion.

kere6Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

Building with Community

Reflecting the accessibility of Kéré’s building process, this video shows one of his most recent projects: the Lycée Schorge school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso. Unlike most modern construction sites in the West, which are strictly off-limits to the public, the Schorge site is left open for the surrounding villagers to observe. This process demystifies the act of building, allowing the public to slowly accept and sometimes even contribute to the new construction. Every stage of the project, including mounting the ceiling trusses and facade elements, fabricating the classroom furniture, and painting the interiors and window shutters, is performed without the use of heavy machinery.

The chairs in this space were made by a local fabricator in Philadelphia using the same design that Kéré created for schools in Burkina Faso. The Francis Kéré Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are pleased to offer these fifteen chairs for sale at the close of the exhibition to support Kéré’s further work in Gando. If you would like to reserve one or more chairs, please visit the Museum Store in this building for further details.

Diébédo Francis Kéré: How to build with clay… and community

Sharing Knowledge

Whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a great baobab tree with logs and stones, the survival and prosperity of each new generation relies heavily on the transmission of knowledge. Gathering is not only a function of social occasions, it is also how ideas are discussed and spread. Shadow symbolizes this place of coming together. Visitors are invited to sit within this gathering space.

Wood

While natural hardwood forests are rare in Burkina Faso, the fast-growing eucalyptus tree provides a useful source of timber. This species is considered a nuisance in the region because it provides little shade and leaches moisture from the soil, exacerbating the problems of desertification. Despite its limited structural strength, it can still be made into screens, interior finishes, furniture, and even secondary facade systems that shade and protect buildings from wind and rain. Through the process of testing and prototyping, Kéré’s firm is also exploring new solutions for reinforcing the material for structural applications.

Clay

Burkinabés have long built with clay, extracting it from the earth, processing it by hand, and using it in a variety of architectural and craft elements, from walls to hand-built pottery. For the Gando School Library, Kéré pioneered a new use for local clay, casting sections of large pots into the ceiling to provide natural ventilation and lighting. Made by local women, the pots were transported to the building site on foot, involving the community’s expertise and participation. More recently, Kéré engineered an innovative way to cast the clay into reusable molds, creating wall systems that can be replicated for use in modular buildings.

Bricks

Bricks play a crucial role in Kéré’s architectural practice. Whether cast from clay or cut from locally extracted laterite stone, the simple form of the brick can be used to create sophisticated architectural forms and building systems. With or without mortar, bricks can be used in walls, ceilings, and floors. Different systems of stacking and bonding can produce a permeable boundary, allowing air and light to pass through. Thick brick walls also create a thermal mass, which, together with adequate ventilation and shading, helps to maintain a comfortably cool interior space.

School Furniture

To offset the costs of transporting building materials to remote sites with extremely limited means, Kéré and his team came up with ingenious ways to use every scrap of material left over from construction. Using steel rebar and plywood, the team built customized chairs and desks for school students and staff. Every bend and weld was carefully calculated to streamline production time and costs. The furniture was produced on-site with simple hand tools and jigs. A particularly striking detail is the rubber “shoe” made by hand from recycled automobile tires.

Architecture of Community

Despite the many differences between the city of Philadelphia and the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, where Francis Kéré was born, the installation in this atrium emphasizes the human-scale domestic architecture of both places and the sense of community such a design produces. In the plan of this space, Kéré overlaid the geometric grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia — represented by the regular placement of the frames that support the hanging parachute cord enclosures — with the irregular disposition of the enclosures themselves, mimicking the organic development of a Burkinabé village. The installation also features sounds collected from both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, reinforcing the concept of community and shared space. The hanging parachute cord material may appear first as an obstacle, but on entering and interacting with the installation, the visitor will perceive that the material is a unifying, enclosing element that creates common spaces that must be negotiated and shared.

It Takes a Village

Conceived by Kéré Architecture and designed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Curatorial, Exhibition Design, and Editorial and Graphic Design teams, this exhibition has fostered an exchange of ideas, traditions, and experiences between Africa, Europe, and the United States. Thanks to the eager participation of many members of the Museum staff and volunteers, the Young Friends Executive Board and event committee, students from the University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Program in Architecture, and the general public to help fabricate components, this installation truly represents the coming together of a community. In addition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art would like to acknowledge Richard Wesley, for facilitating the UPenn collaboration; Larry Spitz, Carol Klein, and Sasha Barrett, who generously offered their services in creating the red clay pots to suggest the Gando Library ceiling; and David Cann and James Bassett-Cann, for their help in the realization of the atrium installation.

Photography is OK, but please no flash.

Social Media: #CreativeAfrica 

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Thank you to The Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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