Modern Spirit and the Group of Eight provided a fresh perspective on the art and culture of the 1920s in Los Angeles. The Group of Eight—Mabel Alvarez, Clarence Hinkle, Henri De Kruif, John Hubbard Rich, Donna Schuster, E. Roscoe Shrader, Edouard Vysekal, and Luvena Buchanan Vysekal—exhibited several times throughout the 1920s, when modernist realism was the dominant trend across American art. Rather than focusing on plein-air landscape painting, like many artists in Los Angeles during the 1920s, the Group of Eight painted figural works, still lifes, and genre scenes in the studio. They wanted to have every means at their disposal to communicate the modern spirit.
The museum’s exhibition of nineteen paintings by the Group of Eight looked at the vibrant and pivotal decade that was the first “golden age” for Los Angeles art. It was a time of intense experimentation and interaction between various artistic and intellectual groups. There was a general sense of fascination for the new and freedom from constraints. It was a time when artists in Los Angeles were self-consciously aware of themselves as forging a dynamic art community and a new art, not for any gain but just for the sheer joy of the adventure. The Group of Eight was pivotal to the development of this modernist community in Los Angeles.
Modern Spirit and the Group of Eight included many paintings that were in the original exhibitions of the Group of Eight, especially their 1927 show at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art.
Guest Curator Susan M. Anderson’s essay for the book that accompanies both Modern Spirit and the Clarence Hinkle exhibitions focuses on cultural themes pertinent to the era, including attitudes towards health and beauty; the New Woman of the 1920s; regional bohemianism; and the impact of Hollywood.
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Lecture by Susan M. Anderson
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