Royal Academy of Arts

America after the Fall

Painting in the 1930s

25 Feb - 04 Jun 2017

Grant Wood,
American Gothic, 1930.
Oil on beaver board. 78 x 65.3 cm. Friends of American Art Collection 1930.934, The Art Institute of Chicago.
Edward Hopper,
New York Movie, 1939.
Oil on canvas. 81.9 x 101.9 cm. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art. Given anonymously. Acc. n.: 396.1941 © 2016. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence.
Thomas Hart Benton,
Cotton Pickers, 1945.
Oil on canvas. 81.3 x 121.9 cm. Prior bequest of Alexander Stewart; Centennial Major Acquisitions Income and Wesley M. Dixon Jr. funds; Roger and J. Peter McCormick Endowments; prior acquisition of the George F. Harding © Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2016.
Georgia O'Keeffe,
Cow's Skull with Calico Roses, 1931.
Oil on canvas. 91.5 x 61 cm. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe, The Art Institute of Chicago © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum / DACS 2016.
Alice Neel,
Pat Whalen, 1935.
Oil, ink and newspaper on canvas. 68.6 x 58.4 cm. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art © The Estate of Alice Neel.
Painting in the 1930s
25 February — 4 June 2017

The art of 1930s America tells the story of a nation in flux. Artists responded to rapid social change and economic anxiety with some of the 20th century’s most powerful art - brought together now in this once-in-a-generation show.

These 45 truly iconic works paint an electrifying portrait of this transformative period. These are works which have rarely been seen together, by artists ranging from Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper to Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston and more. Perhaps the most celebrated work of them all, Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic (1930), has never left North American shores before.

In the devastating wake of the Wall Street Crash, artists sought to capture the changes in urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration that pulsed across the country, resulting in one of the most vital periods for American artists in the 20th century. This was a decade like no other that saw them search for an elusive ‘Americanness’ through realism, populism and abstraction, rural and urban themes, the farm, the new, the traditional.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Art is not a treasure in the past or an importation from another land, but part of the present life of all living and creating peoples.” So experience the life of 1930s America through the many masterpieces in this landmark show.

Exhibition organised by the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Établissement public du musée d‘Orsay et du musée de l‘Orangerie, Paris.

Tags: Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Grant Wood