Monday, December 12, 2016

The Nervous Epoch

The Modern Dark Age

American Gothic, by Grant Wood (1891–1942); 1930: The 1930s was a period of great anxiety for many; an exhibit of American paintings reflect the mood of the public then, which will likely resonate with many today. No, it’s not the 1930s, but we bear witness to another equally anxious time or period of uncertainty in modern history. Aesthetica Magazine writes: “Entering the gallery space, the salient themes are almost immediately apparent: political disillusionment, racial divide, class, gender and perhaps most pertinently, the search for a sense of national identity that can be comfortably shared by a divided population.” Forget about being stoic and having “nerves of steel.” Anxiety can be debilitating and can make one numb and insensitive, but it can also be liberating, leading to the abandonment of unfeeling rationalism and cold materialism and to the cultivation of imagination and inner contemplation of possibilities other than the present despair; this often leads to new or redefined forms of escapism, of cultural stories and of art. We look at the past, not to recreate it but to understand its essence and meaning. The Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, is currently showing American Painting in the 1930s: The Age of Anxiety, which runs until January 30th 2017.
Photo Credit: ©The Art Institute of Chicago

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