I am so grateful to have a museum of quality nearby. As a member, many programs and lectures are free. I had never attended one and I am happy to report the first in a 6-week series of lectures on Early 20th Century American Art was outstanding. Given by Kristin Mihaylovich, Associate Professor of Art History at Santa Monica College, I was wowed by the slide show she presented, the personal biographies of the artists and her description of the era. A perfect outing.
Today was Part 1: How the other Half Lives: From Gilded Age to Ashcan School. How the Other Half Lives is a tome by photojournalist and social reformer, Jacob Riis, published in1889. We journeyed from copying European nudes (late 1800’s) to Portraiture of the East Coast Aristocratic Society (including my favorite prolific artist, John Singer Sargent, heavily represented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY) to Portraits of immigrant children, tenement landscapes and the movement to expose the plight of the overcrowded city slums.
In 1938, a tenement building was shuttered due to the owner’s lack of interest to update it and bring it up to code. It remained closed up till the 1980’s when a group of women were interested in finding a place for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to house artifacts, photographs, furniture and stories about the many Russian Jews, Italians and Irish that arrived on Ellis Island from its opening in 1892 and made their way through from the tenements to all walks of life.
I was reminded of several historical novels as we traveled through time, using art as our vehicle.
If you get a chance this series runs for the next 5 more Wednesdays and is a bargain for $10 a lecture for non-members. Members get free parking also.
Next week: Part 2: American Modernism and the Avant-garde.