Art: America after the Fall

An Exhibition to Look Forward To


After the shortcomings of 2016 – political and otherwise – it seems timely that the Royal Academy of Arts on London’s Piccadilly should be hosting an exhibition that paints a portrait of a nation in flux. America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s will bring together 45 iconic works of art that responded to the social, economic and cultural implications of the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

A period of devastation became one of opportunity for 20th-century artists such as Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keeffe, who confronted the likes of industrialisation and immigration with honest images – realist and abstract, rural and urban – that sought to bolster the American dream. Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” (1930), which has never before left North American soil, shows an upright Iowa farmer and his glum wife (or daughter) in front of a white wooden house. Some saw it as a satire of the rigidity of small-town American life, a nostalgic image of a century gone by; others, especially those looking for hope as the nation sunk into the Great Depression, celebrated it as embodiment of American virtue. However you view it, this and the other paintings on show will no doubt get you thinking as we set out in 2017.

25 February – 4 June 2017.

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, W1J 0BD.

Photo: Allan Henderson.

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