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"A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918 – 1939"
2003-12-20 until 2004-03-28
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma, WA, USA United States of America

Tacoma Art Museum will be the only West Coast venue for the internationally touring exhibition, A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918 – 1939 on view from December 20, 2003 through March 28, 2004. The exhibition examines the work of American artists who traveled to and from Paris between WWI and WWII and highlights their innovations inspired by their expatriate experience. Approximately 130 works will be featured including works by major modern American artists such as Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, and Man Ray. The exhibition is organized by the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny, Terra Foundation for the Arts. When the exhibition leaves Tacoma Art Museum, it will travel to the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago.

Paris was the world’s art center before World War II, attracting international artists who gleaned ideas and styles from the city’s heady scene. Key artists of many disciplines such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, and Eric Satie lived in Paris during this time period. Throughout these interwar years, the French admired American ingenuity and popular culture – from billboard advertising and jazz music to Manhattan skyscrapers and the landmark cross-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh. Consequently, many American artists living in Paris discovered new-found confidence in their work and a renewed sense of national identity.

“It’s exciting to present major works by important American artists never seen before in the Pacific Northwest,” notes Tacoma Art Museum Chief Curator Patricia McDonnell.  “This exhibition reveals the artistic exchanges between French and American artists. Viewers can see for themselves how American artists developed distinct artistic voices and contributed to the rise of American modernism.”

The exhibition concentrates on four thematic groupings. The Purity of the Object examines how artists simplified and abstracted motifs from modern life and the human form to create distinctly modern artistic expressions. The Birth of American Abstract Artists in ParisGeometric Abstraction delves into American geometric abstraction appearing in Paris. The Chemists of Mystery Influences of Surrealism explores the artists’ evolution from dada to surrealism, and Portraits of the Avant-Garde offers a keen insight into the artists and sitters of the time through creative portrait photographs, sculptures and drawings.

Highlights from the exhibition include: Rue du Singe qui Peche (1921) by Charles Demuth, New York – Paris, No. 1 (1931) by Stuart Davis, Mobile (1931) by Alexander Calder, and Typographer (Final State) (1919) by Fernand Léger. In Tacoma Calder’s standing mobile Untitled 1938, from the collection of Seattle residents John and Mary Shirley will also be featured. The exhibition is accompanied by a 260 page full color catalogue published by the University of California Press that contains essays by prominent French and American scholars. The exhibition is locally supported by The Allen Foundation for the Arts and Comcast, and will be on view in the Weyerhaeuser Family, The Boeing Company, and the Jane and George Russell Galleries.

Charles Demuth (1883-1935)
Rue du Singe qui Pêche, 1921
Tempera on board
52.2 x 41 cm

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