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"The Last Show of the Century: A History of the 20th Century Through Its Art"
1999-09-10 until 2000-01-02
Milwaukee Art Museum
USA United States of America
There have been a number of exhibitions that have featured the art of the 20th century, but
normally the works of art have been used to recount the history of 20th century art. This
exhibition will alter this approach by bringing together works made over the past 100 years
to tell the complex story of the 20th century as a whole.
Twentieth-century artists have been keenly aware of their social environment, perhaps to a
greater degree than artists in any other century. Using a time line as its basis, this exhibition
will count off the major historical events of this century while presenting works of art that
illustrate, amplify or were influenced by these well-known milestones.
For example, in Europe during World War I, German Expressionist such as Ernst Ludwig
Kirchner conveyed many Germans’ feelings of doom and alienation, through their use of
high-key color, angular brush strokes and unsettling perspectives. Other themes in the
exhibition and the artists who represent those themes are: Psychoanalysis (Joan Miro,
Jackson Pollock), the Weimer Era (Otto Dix, George Grosz), the Great Depression (Ben
Shahn, O. Louis Guglielmi), child labor laws (Louis Hine), World War II (Pablo Picasso),
the Holocaust (Hannelore Baron), the rise of advertising and the media (Warhol), the
Vietnam War (Robert Morris), the civil rights movement (Gordon Parks, Romare
Bearden), the feminist movement (Sylvia Sliegh), and the AIDS epidemic (Ross Bleckner).
A collaboration between the Art Museum’s Curatorial and Education departments, this
exhibition will allow the viewer to see how artists in the 20th century have witnessed,
responded to, chronicled or reinterpreted virtually every major historical landmark in this
turbulent century. As a result, the exhibition will serve as a kind of “social study,” a
reflection on the century as it draws to completion.