New-York Historical to revisit the gaudy, turbulent street life of depression-era New York in a major exhibition of the work of Marsh and his contemporaries
New York, NY, April 26, 2013 — Bringing to life the popular spectacles and teeming street scenes of Depression-era New York through the eyes of one of its principal artists, the New-York Historical Society will present the exhibition Swing Time: Reginald Marsh and Thirties New York from June 21 through September 1, 2013. Assembling some sixty paintings, drawings, and prints by Reginald Marsh, Swing Time will be the first major retrospective of his work in more than twenty years. By surrounding these objects with another thirty artworks by his contemporaries, the exhibition will also be the first to address his work in the context of 1930s social realist painting and documentary photography, offering a new understanding of Marsh in light of the city’s conditions and the distinct moment when these works were created.
Organized for New-York Historical by guest curators Barbara Haskell, Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and one of the most widely respected scholars of twentieth-century American art, and independent curator and art historian Sasha Nicholas, Swing Time will group Marsh’s vibrant, multi-figure compositions according to five themes: Street Life on Parade, Star Burlesque, Wonderland Circus, Depression New York, and Coney Island. Because many of Marsh’s paintings are fragile, having been executed in tempera on wood panel, Swing Time will provide a rare opportunity to see a significant number of his finest works together, with loans from private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) was born in Paris into an affluent family of artists and was brought to the United States at the age of two. After graduating from Yale University, he moved to New York City and began working as an illustrator for publications including the Daily News, The New Yorker, and New Masses. He also continued his training at the Art Students League, studying painting under teachers including John Sloan. With the coming of the Great Depression, he found his major subject matter: the crass glamour, gaudiness, and open sexuality of New Yorkers of the middle and lower classes—subway riders, Bowery bums, burlesque queens, Coney Island musclemen, sidewalk sirens, park denizens—most of them living under severe economic and social duress, but all crowded into the streets and showplaces in exhilarating, colorful, turbulent public displays.
Augmenting the exhibition’s paintings, drawings, and prints by Marsh will be a representative selection of his photographs. Also on view will be paintings, prints, and photographs by fellow American Scene artists such as Isabel Bishop, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Walt Kuhn, Raphael Soyer, Isaac Soyer, Guy Pène du Bois, Berenice Abbott, Aaron Siskind, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 176-page catalog published by D Giles Ltd in association with the New-York Historical Society, featuring eighty color and thirty-five black-and-white illustrations. Edited by Barbara Haskell, the catalog includes essays by herself and noted scholars Morris Dickstein, Erika Doss, Jackson Lears, Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, and Sasha Nicholas.
This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue were made possible, in part, by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and through the generosity of Barrie and Deedee Wigmore, Sue Ann Weinberg, Karen and Kevin Kennedy, Pam and Scott Schafler, the Diane and Thomas Jacobsen Foundation, Myron and Anita Kunin, Merrill Berman, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, and an anonymous donor.
ABOUT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as WWII & NYC; Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Drawn by New York: Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; Nueva York (1613 – 1945); and Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world's greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.
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