The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s
Cleveland Museum of Art exhibit
The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s is the first major museum exhibition to focus on American taste in art and design during the 1920s and early 1930s. Through a rich array of over 300 extraordinary works in jewelry, fashion, automobiles, paintings and decorative arts, featuring the events and people that punctuated the era, the exhibition explores the impact of European influences, American lifestyle, artistic movements and innovation during this exciting period.
The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s is co-organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and is on view in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Hall from September 30, 2017 through January 14, 2018.
“The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s is a blockbuster show—gorgeous, bountiful, exhilarating,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The exhibition explores the creative impulses that shaped American taste in that dynamic era, as well as new ideas that challenged the status quo and a desire for change in art and design. We are excited to give our visitors an inside look at this glorious age of innovation and artistic expression.”
Hahn Loeser partner Josh Knerly and CMA Director William Griswold
“Nowhere else can be seen under one roof such an extraordinary group of design masterworks, which formed the essence of American style in the first half of the 20th century, than in this exhibition,” said Stephen Harrison, curator of decorative art and design. “Some of these rare pieces represent recent discoveries. Others are owned privately and have not been seen publicly since they were made in the 1920s. These works pushed the boundaries of art and design in an age when people were hungry for change.”
Everyone is familiar with the Roaring 20s and flappers and jazz. What surprised me was the diversity of objects on display in the Jazz Age exhibit. Paintings and artwork as expected but also furniture, jewelry, (very cool!) clocks and even automobiles.
It's a fun exhibit and the CMA staff is joining in the festivities.
Two of the larger pieces of course are the classic cars. First is the Cord 812 Phaeton Roadster, 1937 from the Auburn Automobile Company of Auburn Indiana. The model 812 front-wheel-drive Cord (along with the 810) made its debut at the 1935 New York Auto Show and was an immediate success.
Cord 812 Phaeton Roadster, 1937
The other is the Piccadilly Roadster, 1925. Rolls-Royce. Manufactured with American parts in Springfield, MA, 1924-25. The American market for luxury automobiles grew so rapidly that by 1920 Rolls-Royce had purchased a manufactory in Springfield, Massachusetts, to assemble cars for its wealthy American clientele. The original owner of this roadster was a woman in Rye, New York, who paid over $15,000 for it in 1926.
Piccadilly Roadster, 1925. Rolls-Royce
Here's a short video look at the two on display. (Click on the white arrow to watch the video. Make sure your speakers are on and you can make the video full screen once it begins by clicking the icon in the lower right corner.)
There are some terrific pieces representing the Jazz Age along the lines you might expect.
There are historical pieces that capture a place in time.
Severance Hall Grand Foyer - 1930 Presentation drawing by Cleveland architects Walker & Weeks
Brooklyn Bridge oil on canvas by Joseph Stella
View of the Chrysler Building oil on canvas 1933 by Rachel Hartley
Pair of Gates from the Chanin Building, New York City 1928
There are historical figures represented.
George Gershwin at piano, 1926
Portrait of Hattie Carnegie from about 1925
Portrait of Myron Herrick, former Ohio Governor, about 1922
There's also a lot of fashion and jewelry from the era.
Woman's wool knit bathing suit from the 1920's
Egyptian bracelet bag
Industrial motif jewelry
Even Jazz Age furniture is on display.
Cabinet from 1930
Muse with Violin screen from 1930
After the First World War, with the postwar map of Europe redrawn and social mores redefined, design influences merged—especially in Paris, Vienna and across the United States. New fortunes, primarily American, fueled self-indulgence and consumption, prompting design featuring vibrant colors, sumptuous materials and a unique sense of freedom. The United States became the leading marketplace for innovative architecture, interior design, decorative art, fashion and music, with industrial design moving into the domestic sphere.
Craftsmanship and experimentation flowed back and forth across the Atlantic, with an influx of European émigré designers coming to America and American creative talent traveling and studying abroad. Organized in six sections, The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s explores objects affected by the purchasing power of new fortunes and new tastes, and reveals a decade marked by sharp contrasts as new ideas began to challenge traditional revival styles.
My favorites? I really liked some of the clocks on display especially the Tree of Knowledge clock and the Chinoiserie Clock.
I also liked the Warrior Heads plaque by Viktor Schreckengost from 1932
I also got a kick out of the Cocktail Bar perfume presentation from 1929. I can imagine my flapper grandmother using the perfumes during Prohibition.
You will undoubtedly have your own favorites from the hundreds of items on display in The Jazz Age: American Style exhibit.
More than three dozen objects from The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s will be featured on the Reveal and Zoom Wall in ARTLENS Studio and in a curated view previewing the exhibition on the ARTLENS Wall. Works from the CMA’s permanent collection featured in the exhibition can also be found in the ARTLENS App. The app is free to download to iPads or iPhones running iOS9 or higher, or an Android device (4.4+), from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
Tickets for The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s include an audio tour produced by Acoustiguide that offers additional context about this dynamic era of innovation, burgeoning modernity and cultural exchange between America and Europe, including an introduction by William Griswold and extended interpretation for 21 artworks in the exhibition.