Published: August 23, 2016
ATHENS, GA. — The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present the exhibition “Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883-1950,” on view September 7 to December 11.
“Icon of Modernism” includes 55 paintings, watercolors, works on paper and photographs that all take the Brooklyn Bridge as a subject. Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museum’s curator of American art, chose works created between the completion of the bridge (1883) and mid-Twentieth Century to show how artistic representations of it changed over time, even as it symbolized modernity for different generations. From early American impressionist paintings of the bridge to abstract expressionist portrayals of it, the details of how artists presented the bridge change, but its ability to stand for the modern era remained.
“When it opened, it was just such a phenomenon, and there were tons of commemorative objects featuring the bridge. A lot of other museums have shown the wide variety of these objects, but we decided not to do that. We’re sticking with the aesthetic portion alone, in the same way we’re not focusing on the building of the bridge,” explains Gillespie, who was tasked with organizing the exhibition when the museum hired her in 2014.
Although it may seem strange for Athens, Ga., to host an exhibition on a structure so tied to New York City, members of the Roebling family, who designed the bridge, lived in Athens for many years. Portraits of Margaret Allison and Ferdinand William Roebling have been on view in the museum’s permanent collection galleries. In addition, the museum’s collection overlaps strongly with the span of time the exhibition covers; an exhibition of related works from that collection will be on view September 17–December 31 in an adjoining gallery.
Artists with work in “Icon of Modernism” include painters, Joseph Stella, John Marin, Yun Gee and Reginald Marsh and photographers Edward Steichen, Walker Evans, Weegee and Consuelo Kanaga. Four works in the exhibition come from the museum’s permanent collection, but the remainder are on loan from museums, corporate collections and private collections across the country.
An illustrated catalog published by the museum will accompany “Icon of Modernism,” with scholarly essays.
The Georgia Museum of Art is in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on UGA’s East Campus, 90 Carlton Street. For more information, 706-542-4662 or www.georgiamuseum.org.
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