Fascinating rhythm, oh won’t you stop picking on me? The rollicking, roiling, wonderfully cacophonous variety of works in Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties sent me diving deep into my record collection – I just had to hear what was going on at the time these paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs were being made. And the opportunity to put together a playlist for the pure enjoyment of it all was just impossible to resist.
Why were artists in the United States during the 1920s so fascinated by urban landscapes? Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, on view now through September 16, has an entire gallery dedicated to the ways its featured artists engaged with urban life. Planes, trains, skyscrapers, and factories provided subject matter, interestingly portrayed in ways that sought beauty and individuality from things that were at times considered visually unremarkable or anonymous.
At the dawn of the 20th century the city of Cleveland was famous throughout the nation and world as the quintessential example of the American dream in action. During the 1920s the Cleveland Museum of Art demonstrated the vitality and energy of a recently founded city landmark. Clevelanders flocked to the many exhibits, programs, and classes held both at the museum and throughout the city. The museum provided many outlets for local artistic and musical exuberance.
Before the world started watching “talkies” in the late 1920s, silent film had just established itself as a higher art form.