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1920's Art and Literature

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Submitted By abbydelamotte
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Abby Delamotte
Mrs. Di Somma
American Cultures P.1
24 April 2011 To create something brilliant, there must be truth and reason. Artists hiding behind paper and art only kept the truth hidden. In the 1920’s Art and Literature revolutionized American Society by turning away from the traditional ways and exposing the reality of American life. Art that was being published in the twenties was a representation of a new and wide variety of the movements, forms and points of view. This decade was one that “produced many great works of art, music [and] literature” (Mintz). In the early twenties American culture stood in Europe’s shadow and towards the end Americans were leading the struggle to liberate the arts. Artists were ready to develop new structures, tastes and styles. Poets like E.E Cummings, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Stevens were experimenting with new writing styles and format. Artists were doing the same, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keefe, and Joseph Stella, by challenging the dominant and realist traditions in American art.
Not only did the techniques change but as did the genres. The 1920’s era was also an era of the Harlem Renaissance “a golden age in American Literature and significant developments” in other arts such as painting and music (Burg). Creativity exploded in Harlem and jazz came into being. Photographers captured the essence of Charles Demuth’s art work by pioneering expressionist art forms. Even as college enrollment doubled during this time period people began to veer away from the traditional ways of American culture. Truth and reality became a common genre in the artwork being published. The new tactics of perceiving reality that artists used came to be known as modernism in “[the] experimentation in techniques, freedom in ideas, originality in perceptions, and self-examination is emotions”(Topics). Braking away from the expected ways the art and literature took off to a whole new level.
Post war “big boom” brought a sense of hope to many Americans. As education and business flourished, the content and image of artists in America did as well. Always following in the footsteps of European artists the United States was slowly but steadily gaining recognition. By the late 1920’s American artists were being invited to display their brilliant artwork in Europe. Americans began to “f[a]ll in love with [art] and entertainment” (VanSpanckeven). In contrast to the 18th century, the 19th century artists began to boldly speak their minds. Authors began to focus more on the reality of American life. Literary authors “exposed the shallowness”, dullness and boorishness they mocked American Culture (Mintz). We see this today in movies and books that are courageously written containing material that exaggerates but exposes how American life is portrayed by others. The movie Mean Girls is a perfect example that mocks and at the same time exposes the reality of high school life in America. At the same time authors and painters also “shared [the] ambition to not just make their work new but an expression of the possibilities of American creativ[ity]” (Topics). A common genre that authors focused on revolved around portraying the tragedy that awaits those who live in flimsy dreams. Fitzgerald in his finest novel The Great Gatsby he used symbolism and irony in describing the “American dream” and what the consequences are when you get caught up in the social aspect of life. Working so hard to get the material things in order to impress and win over the public. Each character symbolized something different including greed, wealth, love, selfishness and shallowness which when put all together it represents the real “American dream”. The art and literature of the twenties had an impact on what we see today. We can practically feel the emotion the artists were trying to convey and we see the message they are sending through their works of art. Over time we have seen the artists grow more confident and much bolder in what they create for the public to see.

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