My initial inspiration for this exhibition was rooted in the aspiration to present a body of work constituted of artists I consider played an indispensable role in determining the evolution of art in twentieth century. My hopes are to illustrate the extent to which these individuals redefined the constraints of a medium, triggering artistic movements and challenging society’s perception of what can constitute art. Furthermore, I intend to trace the progression and direction the art world has taken as a result of their contribution. Amid the onslaught of modernity, the work generated in the past century contradicts the pillars of traditional artwork it preceded. Artists such as Egon Sciele, Tamara DeLempicka and Matisse were all crucial players in manipulating the medium with which they worked. Tearing down past preconceptions of fine art, the transgression of stylistic boundaries defied the limitations of its precedent. The artists lacing the walls of this exhibit, despite the disparity in their technique and methodology, have in one respect or another influenced the manner in which we regard contemporary art. Subsisting during different points in history, several of the artists were subject to criticism while others were highly acclaimed. The conflicting circumstances experienced by each of the artists are reflected in their work and serve to explicate the differing depictions of reality. I am eager to observe how the reaction of the public today will compare to that of the past and more over survey how one’s appreciation for a painting can shift when put in relation to the work of another artist.
Given that art is a representation of reality, I believe that it is essential when considering a composition to place it in its proper temporal context while also taking into account the life led by the artist, dissecting the automy of pain and happiness lacing their years. A work of art not only unveils how the artist perceived the outside world, but also renders an insight into the social turmoil plaguing the time through which they subsisted. To neglect the socio-economic circumstances paralleling the artist’s life denies one the possibility of formulating an accurate analysis of their art. Thus, before I go into great detail about the piece of work itself, I will provide some preliminary information regarding the artist’s life and the public’s reaction to their artistic contribution. Furthermore, I believe it is best if I present the artists in a slightly chronological order so to illustrate the progression and direction the art world took, perhaps shedding light on the manner in which these artists influenced one another.
I will begin with the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, whose figurative paintings in the early 20th century were dismissed as inconsequential during his lifetime. As a protégé of the great Gustav Klimt, his prolific body of work has in retrospect had a great influence on the art world. However, due to his premature death at the age of twenty-eight, he never lived to receive proper recognition for his work. His subsistence as a social outcast stemmed from the vulgar nature of his sketches, which oftentimes rendered prostitutes and under-aged girls undressed and erotically positioned. At the dawn of the 20th century, the German society proved incapable of tolerating the raw representations of his stripped female figures. However, Schiele’s racy illustrations can be conceived as controversial regardless of their temporal context, as even today several of his sketches are considered revolting. Egon Schiele fails to delineate the women’s body in an untainted light, finding beauty in the grotesque, he exploits the vulgar and raw nature of their contorted corporal frames.
When presented with the predicament of which sketch of Schieles’ to exhibit “Girl with Black Hair” emerged as the most formidable illustration of his style, technique and vision. This particular sketch depicts a young woman reclining gracefully backwards with her legs spread and her genitalia shamefully exposed. The expression she wears teeters between seduction and unbearable boredom. Her eyes are darkly outlined and stare crookedly out from behind her open thighs. This provocative and expressively erotic depiction of the woman’s body is quintessential of Schiele’s work. The dark shades of cobalt blue and maroon are worked into the black of the woman’s hair and dress. Schiele’s delicate lines and lush brush strokes are fluid and free. The subject is not delineated in great detail, yet Schiele seems to harbor the ability to communicate what is absent via the manipulation of negative space. He neglects to draw the woman with arms and legs, yet the image fares fine without. The perspective of the painting is taken from above, a vantage point which is typical of Schiele’s work. Yet, the “Girl with Black Hair”, like much of his work, fell through the cracks of the social norm, starving him of the recognition he rightfully deserved. It is specifically for this reason that I have chosen to exhibit his work in this show, as I am anxious to observe how the public’s perception of him has shifted in this day in age.
Unlike Egon Scheile, who never lived to see the artistic influence of his contribution, Tamara DeLempicka took the art world by storm. Perhaps one of the most renowned and prolific artists of the art deco period, her work was as innovative as it was expressive. Heavily influenced by cubism, her massive geometric paintings were oftentimes portraits commissioned by the elite. In Russia during the revolution and Paris during the roaring twenties, her experiences bled onto canvas, rendering a unique insight into the social circumstances plaguing the global stage during her lifetime. Best described as a glamorous bohemian, she was famous for her beauty and scandalous demeanor. Aside from her artistically gifted eye, her socialite status and facility to network also played a crucial role in DeLimpicka’s success as a painter. A friend of Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, Tamara DeLempicka was very well connected while in Paris and consequently emerged one of the most sought after portrait artists of her time. In retrospect, she is not incredibly well recognized in relation to the other great artists of the time. Her fame graced the years of her life and extinguished with her death.
For this exhibition, I was initially inclined to incorporate one of Tamara DeLempicka’s countless portraits of the bourgeoisie, as it is quintessential of her style and subject matter. However, after careful consideration I’ve resolved to put on display one of the few paintings of hers that was done without a commission. It is not as if her commissioned work was void of any inspiration outside of financial gain, however the portrait on exhibit was painted on her own accord offering perhaps an even greater insight into her artistic intellect. The composition depicts a woman stripped of her clothing and chained at the wrist. Her eyes look upwards towards the heavens. Geometric in shape and form, the influence of cubism is evident in her methodology of breaking up space. The colors consist of muted flesh tones and a shallow range of grays. There is a strong contrast between her bare figure, the stain of shadows and the crude city the serves as the backdrop. The sensual shape of her curved figure is juxtaposed with the harsh, jagged profile of the skyline outside. The chains that bind her wrist symbolize her imprisonment in a world overwhelmed by inequality, needless brutality and intolerance. Her nudity expresses her vulnerability and her red lipstick lends the connotation of femininity. In a sense, this painting unveils DeLempicka’s aspirations to illustrate the emotional turmoil she experienced subsisting in an age laced with uncertainty and hatred.
In contrast to Tamara DeLempicka, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is an artist of an entirely different breed. Although never starved of recognition, her experience as a painter differed greatly from that of DeLempickas’. Kahlo “pretended not to consider her work important, she preferred to be seen as a beguiling personality rather than as a painter.” (Herrera 52). For Frida, her paintings were merely an expression of her inner self. She once wrote, “I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to” (Herrera 60). Her body of work, which is namely constituted of self-portraits, expresses the pain and anguish that plagued her existence. Gracing the first half of the twentieth century, she is described by most art historians as a painter that teetered between the realms of Surrealism and Realism. Yet, in retrospect, Frida’s work is not so much a product of a movement but rather an earnest expression of her torn self. In all honesty, I have always questioned whether she was even aware of her role in the Surrealist movement prior to meeting Andre Breton. Her stylistic vision had no precedent and few have successfully ensued in a similar vein of illustration. Infused with symbolic expressions of her physical pain, her self-portraits depict the alienation of suffering she grew to despise. After having endured a serious bus accident, countless surgeries and a miscarriage, her body became a physical manifestation of her mental state. For Frida, painting was a means of channeling the misery she grew weary of harboring.
For this exhibition, I have chosen the painting entitled, “The Broken Column,” as I believe it eloquently illustrates Frida’s ability to render the burden of suffering in a vain almost insufferable to observe. This painting is, like much of her work, a self-portrait. In the center of the canvas, she sits, spine straight, eyes staring fiercely out. Nails are driven into the torso of her stripped body that at its center splits. The fission that tears her apart is held open by a column riddled with cracks. This detail renders the visual metaphor that she, like the column, is broken. Her nudity suggests vulnerability and the innumerable nails piercing her prove to be worthless adjuncts that needlessly puncture her stripped body. Although tears blotch her sunken face, her eyes do not cry. There is a sense of dignity in her expression that veils the overwhelming agony and excruciating physical suffering she evidently endures. In the background lies a barren and endless field, which illustrates further her emotional and physical isolation. Her paintings evoke the realization that she was alone in her suffering. Exalting a “feminine quality of truth, reality, cruelty and suffering” (Herrera 59), Frida’s paintings express the inexplicable. Her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, perhaps best articulated Frida’s ability to put “agonized poetry on canvas” (Herrera 23).
Straying far from the artistic norm, the Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s art subsisted, like Frida, within the realms of Surrealism. However, unlike Kahlo, who was oblivious to her place in the artistic movement, Dali knowingly stood at the forefront despite Breton’s skepticism. A legend in his own mind and, in retrospect, an icon of the surrealist movement, Dali’s beautiful and bizarre depictions can be best described as vivid manifestations of his perverse imagination. Inspired by the fantastical images that sprang from his subconscious, the obscure nature of Dali’s paintings was justified by Freud’s theory on the mind. Furthermore, Salvador harbored an incredible propensity for realism within the realms of the Surrealist world. He arrived at his artistic ability after years of laboring over the technical aspects of traditional art. His outlandish attire and flamboyant mannerisms secured his place in the public eye. Furthermore, Salvador Dali, unlike many artists, was highly acclaimed during his life for the great painter he was.
Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” emerges as one of his most recognized works of art. Also referred to as “Melting Clocks”, this painting denotes the ephemeral nature of time. The depiction of concrete objects melting alone in a barren plain with a horizon laced with cliffs renders the nonsensical and disillusioned effect surrealist strove to achieve. Dali’s “imperialist fury of precision,” (Montagu 42) and “paralyzing tricks of eye-fooling,” (Montagu 42) afford absolute and utter “confusion and thus help discredit completely the world of reality” (Montagu 43). In this piece, ants serve to symbolize the idea of decay, as they incessantly eat away at the gold watch that rest on the edge of a ledge. The three limp clocks that are strung around the canvas contradict any inclination towards the assumption that time is laced with a degree of permanence. The androgynous profile of perhaps Salvador himself sits in the center of the canvas. His presence in the painting proves that he too cannot escape the inevitability of death. Ultimately, this depiction grotesquely yet skillfully illustrates the decay of time, proving that the only unchanging truth in life is that life is always changing. Laced with unpredictability, life is fleeting, yet Salvador embraces this truth, acknowledging that his heart too will cease to beat one day.
To move on to another great painter, Henri Matisse subsisted during the same point in history as Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo, however his artwork cannot come close to comparing. Henri Matisse is regarded as one of the most important French painters of the past century. Although a prolific printmaker and sculptor, he is best known as a painter. His work is recognized for its vivid use of color and the fluidity of his brushstrokes. Early in his career, he led the Fauvist movement, which has been denoted as one of the first great avant-garde movements to grace the twentieth century. Inspired by expressionism, the paintings generated during this movement are best characterized by their use of bright and exuberant colors. Yet Matisse contribution to Fauvism marked only the start of his career. Over the years, his style evolved tremendously. Most critics would agree that Matisse harbored an inexplicable and intrinsic understanding of color and composition. He achieved international recognition during his life and is arguably one of the most famous painters lacing the walls of this exhibition today.
It was incredibly tasking to discern which painting would best exemplify Matisse’s style and vision due to the enormity of his portfolio. Yet the agony of this indecisiveness subsided upon reaching the resolution that Henri Matisse’ Still-life with Blue Tablecloth serves as, if not the best, at least a viable testament of his talent. Although the still life is, in theory, a mere depiction of a few items resting on a table, I’ve chosen this painting because upon closer examination the technical skill required to render this seemingly simplistic portrayal is unveiled. The complicity of this composition primarily lies in the ambiguous nature of its backdrop, which is blanketed by a blue and white sheet. In the foreground sits three still life studies– an olive green flask, a coffee pot and a bowl of fruit. Although, in theory, the image should appear flat due to the two-dimensional disposition one would imagine a printed fabric would inevitably render, Matisse skillfully communicates depth without relying on traditional methods of representation. The three still life objects do not appear to sit atop a table, but rather float within the space of the sheet while simultaneously remaining grounded.
Matisse’s inventive manipulation of space advocates that he was not so much a realist but rather a man whose inspiration stemmed from his imagination. Rendering the obscured reality of his unique perception, Matisse’s visual deception presents a paradoxical representation of objects that despite their tangibility defy not only the laws of gravity, but also rational reasoning. His brush strokes are fierce and fluid. In Still-life with Blue Tablecloth, Matisse uses various shades of cobalt blue in his depiction of the backdrop. The still lives are painted in bright complementary colors such as tangerine orange, pea green and bright yellow. The bowl of fruit sits slightly behind the green flask, breaking down the dynamics of the space and further reinforcing the perception of depth. Matisse’s genius lies perhaps in his ability to disguise the complicity of a composition by delineating it as a simplistic portrayal, the fluidity in his brushstrokes rendering the disillusion that the depiction was effortlessly composed.
Although Matisse’s influence on the art world is indisputable, it would be imprudent to define art solely within the confines of visual representation. Thus, I’ve decided to incorporate several musicians into the exposition, as I feel their sway in society should not be overlooked. I’ve resolved to exhibit the work of Nina Simone, as she is a woman I have always harbored profound respect and admiration for. Known to many as the “High Priestess of Soul”, it would be thoughtless to classify her as solely a Jazz musician since she was not the type to be pigeonholed to one identity. Singer, songwriter, pianist, actress and activist, Nina Simone was a woman who couldn’t be confined to one career or stifled by the social implications of her race. Her vocal versatility is evident through her embrace of genres ranging from blues to gospel, jazz and folk. Although I find much of her music incredibly inspiring, I have chosen to include the song Ain’t Got No as part of this exhibition as I believe it conveys best Nina Simone’s vocal versatility and lyrical creativity. Illustrating the necessity to transcend the difficulties of life, the song is ultimately about appreciating what it is that you already have, rather then focusing on what it is that you don’t. Her appreciation for what many take for granted is as uplifting as it is inspiring. The song expresses her overwhelming gratitude just to be alive, to have fingers and toes and legs that move. The simplicity of her appreciation is perhaps what I love most about the song. It is nearly impossible not to smile while listening to her vocalizes the joy of having a liver and boobies.
In order to fully appreciate the beauty of this song’s lyrics, one must be conscious of the circumstances binding the individual who wrote them. Nina Simone was not only a woman, but a black woman, living in an era when neither were easy identities to inhabit. However, amid the turmoil of the civil rights and feminist movement, Nina Simone defied the odds and became an almost iconic figure in the jazz world. In the wake of great social and racial injustice, she neglected the limitations stemming from the color of her skin and sang fearlessly about the inequality plaguing the nation. Although her song, Ain’t Got No is not of the many in her repertoire that express her anger towards the intolerant nation, it does illustrate her ability to transcend the racial injustice afflicting her generation via focusing solely on the good in life. Ain’t Got No conveys the notion that we don’t even have enough fingers to count all of our blessings. The seemingly simplistic form of gratitude is ultimately bliss in its purest form. Nina Simone proves to have the ability to see beauty where others see pain, see hope where others see misery.
To shift gears from one medium to another, artist David Hockney, unlike Nina Simone, met little to no resistance as an artist. His career as a painter and photographer has been blessed with incessant success. Born in Britain, Hockney has had a strong presence in the art world for the past forty years. Nonetheless, it is difficult to place his art in the context of modernity, as despite his style and the public’s perception of his being a Pop artist, he like Nina refuses to be pigeonholed to one movement. Openly homosexual, his promiscuous relationships are no secret. In this respect, Nina Simone and David Hockney share the experience of being marginalized, and similarly have responded to this discrimination by embracing their minority status. Although his paintings have been regarded at times as somewhat unconventional, they are by and large well received by the public and critics alike. Typified by their vivid colors and simplistic settings, Hockney’s work can be best recognized by the unique and geometric style he employs. Heavily influenced by cubism and the Los Angeles landscape and lifestyle, his artistic approach flourished upon moving to the States in the early 1960’s. Unlike many artists lacing the walls of this exhibition, Hockney’s paintings are far from a testament of displaced pain, but rather an unparalleled depiction of the monotony of everyday life.
I have decided to exhibit the painting entitled “A Bigger Splash” as I believe it in a sense epitomizes Hockney’s style. Painted in the late 1960s, the work depicts a tranquil summer afternoon in California. Judging by the shadows, or rather lack thereof, it appears to be midday. The sun hangs high in the cloudless pale blue sky lending an impression of unbearable heat. Hockney’s ability to artistically articulate a sweltering summer day and the exacerbation of tedium is perhaps where his talent lies. A cabana and two solitary palm trees break the continuity of the empty sky. In the foreground a yellow diving board juts out and slices into a swimming pool. A splash in the water interrupts the pool’s otherwise placid surface and serves as the only evidence of life. The skeletal lines of the splatter break the balance of the geometric composition. Aside from the splash of water, the image is flat, not necessarily in that it lacks depth but in its two dimensional deconstruction of space. The angular abstraction of the composition is threatened by the splash by the unseen subject. The mundane depiction translates as a simplified view of the world at large. However, like much the work of David Hockney, there is something inexplicably discomforting about the simplistic scene.
While David Hockney was painting by his poolside in Los Angeles, Cindy Sherman photographs were beginning to catch the eye of the New York art scene. Known for her conceptual self-portraits, the American artist has been regarded by countless critics as one of the most influential female photographers of the late twentieth century. Initially finding the technical aspect of photography far too complex, Sherman started off her career as an oil painter. However, inevitably she came to embrace the medium in her mid-twenties and has been an innovative presence in the photography world ever since. So attracted she was to the immediate gratification rendered from taking of picture that she disregarded the necessity of instruction and began just offhandedly snapping photographs. The experience of arresting and collecting fragments of time unleashed in Sherman a fierce creativity that separates her from other artists.
Sherman’s body of work is primarily constituted of self-portraits. However, one must discard any prior preconception of what a “self-portrait” actually entails in order to comprehend what is meant by the aforementioned avowal, as each of her portraits portrays her in a different fashion. It is in this sense that her work brings into question the politics of identity. Outfitted in an array of attire from pornographic movie star to war veteran, the assorted characters that thread through her body of work render a range of portrayals representing her with countless personalities. While in one series she might adorn herself in the vain of a film noir actress, in another she has herself ridiculously decked out as a clown. The disparity of identities she chooses to inhabit really have no end. She is known for generating work that through the instrument of disguise can project both political outrage as well as a temperament of victimization and suffering.
Cindy Sherman’s self portraits have been regarded as a social critique on the stereotypes regarding sex and gender. Her photographs challenge the viewer to question the way in which a woman’s role in society is manipulated by the mass media. By the act of mimesis, she unveils the perverse and eclectic manner in which a woman’s body is positioned in the context of the patriarchal hierarchy. However, when confronted about the nature of her work, she states, “the work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff” (Bronfen 83). Although present in each and every one of her photographs, she strives as an artist to separate her politics from her work, thus rendering it open to interpretation and free from the constraints of preconceived notions regarding its signification.
When faced with the decision to select a photograph to place on exhibition for the opening, I found myself torn. The diversity in Cindy Sherman’s stylistic aim is so immense that it is difficult to discern which portrait serves as the best representation of her work. The photograph I have chosen perhaps does not do her justice, yet it at the very least lends an insight into her artistic vision. The portrait is untitled and portrays Sherman curled up in a fetus-like position. The photograph projects a clash of vulnerability, anticipation and victimization. One hand rest just below her breasts, the other gently supports her slightly tilted head. The expression on her face is inscrutable. Her glazed over eyes and deflected gaze divulge little of what passes through her mind. One is unable to decipher whether she is on the verge of hystery or lingering in a state of mindless detachment. Even more bewildering is the fact that she is soaking wet; her hair and white t-shirt cling to her contorted body. A harsh blinding light bleeds into the frame from the right hand side of the picture throwing shadows across her figure. A stark contrast is rendered and darkness consumes her bent body. Although Sherman’s feminist politics subsist below the surface, this compelling composition constructs an opened ended narrative free from constraints and up to interpretation.
Another great feminist to grace the latter half the twentieth century was the singer, songwriter Ani Difranco. The outspoken and prolific artist has been generating music for the over twenty years now, starting her career off at the ripe age of eighteen. Her music fails to fall under any fixed musical genre, but can be perhaps best described as an innovative form of folk with a focus on contemporary social issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, and war. Her lyrics are poetic and personal and there is a violent yet unparalleled manner at which she slashes at her classical guitar rendering a raw and unadulterated sound. As a political and woman’s rights activist, her music strays from the lyrical expectations lacing the mainstream. However, the formation of her own record label liberated her from the constraints of popular culture and furthermore secures her the freedom to speak her mind regardless of the consequences. Her songs, fleshed out with a sense of urgency and defiance, are rooted predominately in social critique and political outrage. Incredibly prolific, Difranco has generated over twenty albums in the past decade alone. Over the throbbing pulse of her acoustic guitar, her elegant language affords her the recognition of being an exquisite poet. She is perhaps best described in her own words, “I speak without reservation from what I know and who I am. I do so with the understanding that all people should have the right to offer their voice to the chorus whether the result is harmony or dissonance, the world song is a colorless dirge without the differences that distinguish us, and it is that difference, which should be celebrated, not condemned.”
Ani Difranco’s fourteenth album, “To the Teeth”, intertwines her melodic vignettes and beautiful acoustic sound with edgy lyrics that deride the political corruption plaguing America at the turn of the century. Released in 1999, the CD’s experimental and atypical sound amalgamates genres of jazz, folk and funk. Shedding light on issues such as racial inequality, abortion and rape, the album serves as an ideal illustration of her style, sound and aim. The CD opens with the track for which it was named after, “To the Teeth”. As a response to the Columbine School shootings, this song serves as a critique on the gun culture of America and disparages the NRA for lobbying arms. “Hello Birmingham” ensues this song as an accolade to Barnett Slepian, an abortion doctor murdered in Alabama. Track four follows with a sound straying from the aforementioned, unveiling Ani Difranco stylistic aim and experimental manipulation of melody with the electronically distinctive sound of “Freakshow”. The lyrical protests and vicious acoustic harmony render an edginess that is hard to define. The album “To the Teeth” unveils Difranco’s unparalleled skill to eloquently articulate what passes through her head. In a time when pop culture is predominately dominated by brainless blonds who exploit their sexuality in return for fame, Ani Difranco’s songs serve as a refuge.
Moving on from one feminist to another, American poet Sylvia Plath subsisted several decades prior to Ani Difranco, her poetry serving as an inspiration to Difranco and countless other female writers in this day and age. Plath is perhaps best known for her ability to articulate the unbearable agony of depression and the social constraints of sexism. By and large, her body of work was not highly esteemed during her lifetime. Straying from convention, her poetry was oftentimes regarded as a morbid manifestation of her misery. She has been criticized for her allusions to self-mutilation and insinuation towards a sexually charged relationship with her father. Veiling her verbal intentions with obscure yet masterly constructed metaphors, Plath defied the social norms of her era. Although her first book, “The Colossus”, was fairly well received by critics, the book to follow, “Ariel” proved to be incredibly controversial. Regardless of the public reaction, I believe “Ariel” serves as a better illustration of her work as it bares the marks of her descent into mental illness and is stripped of the conventional techniques she employed prior.
Unlike its precedent, “Ariel” eloquently demonstrates the facility at which Sylvia Plath strung together words. The poems constituting the book are far more confessional then that of her earlier work, marking a significant turning point in her career as a poet. The maudlin portrayal of mental illness and inclination towards suicide offer an alarming autobiographical depiction that ensuing her sudden death triggered social outrage. Subsisting during an era where gender inequality was rampant, this book serves as a testament of her outspoken opposition to the prescribed place of women in society. The collection of poems was first published in 1965, two years after her suicide. Sylvia Plath had left the completed manuscript in a licked envelope in the top drawer of her worn desk. It was her husband, poet Ted Hughes, who edited and later published it. Whether Sylvia Plath initially harbored the intention for her work to be released to the general public and read by the eyes of strangers remains unsure. Nonetheless, the work renders an insight into the dangerous neighborhoods of Plath’s mind that she so frequently wandered through. Furthermore the book unveils the torment and frustration that laced her lifetime up until the morning of her suicide.
Although I hate to end on such a sudden and somber note, Sylvia Plath is my final addition to this exhibition. As a poet, her contribution to the world at large has, like each and every one of the individuals on exhibit today, left a lingering and indisputable impression on contemporary society. I hope in observing the works lacing the walls of this collection, it becomes evident how these artists have influenced one another over the course of time. The disparity in representation unveils that each reflects a differing socio-economic reality plaguing the time through which the artist subsisted. In passing through the halls of this impressive collection, strive to regard the works of art individually as well as in relation to one another, as I believe this approach renders an unparalleled insight. The twentieth century has served as a haven for artistic innovation fueled by these prolific artists. Despite the disparity style, circumstance and recognition, the art on exhibit today should be viewed through a lens that considers each work in the context of the artistic evolution that defined the twentieth century.