: Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980
2018. USA. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. 97 min.
The belle époque, a French expression meaning “beautiful era,” refers to the interwar years between 1871 and 1914, when Paris was at the forefront of urban development and cultural innovation. During this time Parisians witnessed the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the ascendancy of the Montmartre district as an epicenter for art and entertainment and the brightening of their metropolis under the glow of electric light. From the nostalgic perspective of the twentieth century, this four-decade period of progress and prosperity was a golden age of spectacle and joie de vivre.
For artists living through the epoch, however, the less triumphant details of daily life were often the ones that inspired creative expression: a puff of factory smoke mingling with the clouds; the saucy sneer of a cabaret performer; the densely patterned décor of a domestic interior. To convey the immediacy of what they observed, artists like Pierre Bonnard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rejected the formalities of oil painting, preferring loose, sketch-like handling, abrupt compositional cropping and oblique points of view that situate the spectator within the scene. Many painters turned to printmaking as a newly compelling pictorial medium, one that invited bold aesthetic experimentation while broadening the potential market for avant-garde art. By Day & by Night: Paris in the Belle Époque surveys the rich range of artistic responses to life in the French capital through a selection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs from the Museum’s collections. Together these works of art demonstrate that visual artists participated in the inventive spirit of the age by interpreting the everyday as something extraordinary.
In the 20th century, photographers faced a fundamental quandary. On the one hand, their medium was esteemed precisely for its ability to record what the eye saw. On the other hand, photographers, like painters and sculptors, sought new approaches to advance their picture making. Abstraction as a nonrepresentational, visual language played a significant role in bending the conventional expectations of a medium unquestionably suited to describe people, places and objects. Beyond the World We Know: Abstraction in Photography presents the work of 16 artists who embraced a new goal for their practice: to loosen the grip of realism and demonstrate photography’s ability to suggest something other than itself, to serve as a conduit for visual metaphor and personal expression.
The Sweetness of Life: Three 18th-Century French Paintings from The Frick Collection
Jules and Edmond de Goncourt, the eminent 19th-century historians of French art and society, baptized the 1700s the “century of women.” Though 18th-century women did make strides in the sciences, literature and the arts, they were most often portrayed in genre scenes pursuing leisurely, quotidian pleasures and tasks. Three superb 18th-century French genre paintings from The Frick Collection in New York, part of an ongoing reciprocal exchange program, are on view this summer at the Museum. These artfully constructed visions of contemporary life and fashion, as depicted by François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, provide viewers with an intimate look at the lives of middle-class French women of the 1740s and 1750s. The paintings will be installed in the Museum’s 18th-century Rococo gallery among its own works by Chardin and Boucher, as well as paintings by Jean-Antoine Watteau and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
AIR LAND SEA: A Lithographic Suite by William Crutchfield
Artist William Crutchfield (1932–2015), born in Indianapolis, Indiana, received a traditional studio training at the city’s Herron School of Art and later at Tulane University in New Orleans. His conventional education in the arts may have suited his eye for metronomic movement but perhaps not his prankish sense of humor.
Crutchfield moved to Los Angeles in 1967, settling near the shipyards of San Pedro, amid views of the bustling Port of Los Angeles. This industrial setting provided the artist with plenty of inspiration and subject material for his mechanically derived artworks (the artist once professed that the 1928 transatlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin was one of his prime spiritual sources). The move also gave him the opportunity to create a more public persona after many years of teaching; that same year, he created a lithographic suite for publisher Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles and began regularly exhibiting in galleries.
Crutchfield continued to play with the theme of humankind’s fraught relationship with transportation throughout most of his career. Trains, ships, and airplanes are all portrayed as overbuilt models of modernity. Air Land Sea, a suite of 13 lithographs printed at Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles in 1970, exemplifies the artist’s master draftsmanship, his keen understanding of engineering, his wry wit and, most of all, his fascination with sundry modes of conveyance.
Another Way of Telling: Women Photographers from the Collection
First Major Art Museum Exhibition Dedicated to World-Renowned Photographer Michael Nichols