In the early 1900s, America was a nation in transition,
ripe for evolutions in politics, social systems, literature, and certainly
art. It was an era of world war, prohibition, prosperity, the
Great Depression, and a time of decadence giving birth to a daring and
lively generation that challenged the lifestyle and ideals of the past.
The aspiration and rebellion of American artists was not so much
concerned with radical politics or the class struggle, but expressed
an intense desire to declare the awakened new sense of life in themselves
and their society. They wished to substitute a more tolerant spirit
for the moral indignation, dismissal, and restraints imposed by their
"old society," The Academy (Joachimides and Rosenthal 49).
The shifting artistic values occurring in America pushed aside the ordered
tradition of the Academy and assailed it with a new means of expression--realism.
American Realism introduced new themes that challenged the gentility
of the past with images considered unacceptable and vulgar. It
shifted and revolutionized society with a style and subject matter that
reflected the nation's newfound interest in ordinary people, especially
those of the working class. However, the changes in artistic expression
were just beginning. Within a few years, the artistic traditions
of several centuries were shaken to the very foundation and the new
"modern" art of the twentieth century burst forth, forging
the way for a new standard and a new definition of art.
Armory Show Web Site
Linda M. Larson. All rights reserved.: 29 Nov 2000
revised for thelarsongallery July 2004