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Two Exhibitions Trace Evolution of Modernism
Pablo Picasso, 1937 - Dream And Lie Of Franco.

PRINCETON.- The Princeton Art Museum presents the exhibit Fin de Siècle and Modernist Art: Prints, Drawings and Photographs through January 14, 2007. The evolution of Modernism from the 1880s to the 1940s comes alive at the Princeton University Art Museum in two side-by-side exhibitions, featuring more than fifty works on paper from the collections of the museum and the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Firestone Library, on view from September 9, 2006, through January 14, 2007.

Fin de Siècle presents the interwoven influences of Symbolist art, Secessionist movements, and the rise of elite camera clubs, whose amateur members were keen to adapt the lessons of contemporary art to the darkroom.

Decadence supplies a recurring leitmotif. Peter Henry Emerson’s platinum print photograph The First Frost (1886) portrays a remote rural outpost falling to the forces of nature, while a feverish self-portrait by James Ensor, from the same year, finds the bedridden artist facing off against a crowd of mocking demons. (Ensor’s inscription, added later, rather dubiously declares the drawing a premonition of Futurism.)

Sequences of work explore the themes of landscape, city life, artists’ portraits and self-portraits, and—as a new century dawns—pregnancy, birth, and youth.

On view in the exhibition are works by such artists as Eugène Atget, Gertrude Kasebier, Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, and Alfred Stieglitz.

Modernist Art explores the growing role of avant-garde “isms” in art from the turn of the century to the eve of World War II, with works from the collection exemplifying Expressionism, Futurism, Dada, the New Sobriety (Neue Sachlichkeit), and Surrealism, among other movements.

Highlights include a seldom seen watercolor of a bather by Paul Cézanne, a painted wood wall relief by Jean Arp, and Pablo Picasso’s cartoon-like print The Dream and Lie of Franco (1937), a grotesque travesty of fascism and the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. Three rare publications from Firestone Library provide examples of the periodicals through which vanguard innovations were disseminated. Photographs by August Sander, Alexander Rodchenko, László Moholy-Nagy, and others underline the camera’s central creative role in a new technological era.

The exhibitions were organized and coordinated to accompany two fall semester courses at Princeton University, “Twentieth Century Photography” (Art 348), taught by Anne McCauley, the David H. McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art, and “Modernist Art: 1900 to 1950” (Art 213), taught by Hal Foster, the Townsend Martin ’17 Professor of Art and Archaeology, and chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology.

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