An unparalleled visual feast of Monterey, California and its deep connections to the world beyond awaits visitors at the Monterey Museum of Art
Over 150 paintings, photographs, sculptures, and works on papersmany of which have never been previously exhibitedform a series of ground breaking special exhibitions titled: Monterey Modernism, A New Deal: Art of the Great Depression, and Urban Life: Photography in the City. Organized from the Museums holdings, along with loans from prestigious private collections, these exhibitions are the result of several years of meticulous planning and careful conservation of artworks.
Together, they tell the fascinating story of Monterey artists who were influenced by the Modern Art trends of Paris and New York in the first decades of the 20th century, the economic collapse of the United States and how visual arts flourished amid this catastrophe, and how our citiesfrom the 1940s through the 1970sprovided an unending source of subject matter for photographers documenting everyday life and rapid social change.
As visitors enter the galleries at MMA Pacific Street, they are magically transported to the decades of silent films, the jazz age, the Great Depression, and the decades following World War II. Our art colonies of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea did not exist in a vacuum, explained Executive Director E. Michael Whittington. The paintings and tile mosaics of the Bruton sisters, for example, demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and incorporation of American and European modernist aesthetics. Margaret Brutons beautiful Barns on Cass Street from 1925, reminds me of Cézannes masterful landscapes of the French countryside.
Whittington added that the Museums Pacific Street location was built in 1929 and it is not only a stunning example of the Spanish Colonial revival style for which Monterey is famous, but provides the perfect architectural setting for these exhibitions.
The late 1920s and 1930s were an immensely fertile period in American art. During the Great Depression, The Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed all manner of visual, performing and literary artists. That visual arts legacy remains in outstanding murals and sculptures still on display in many state and federal buildings. A New Deal: Art of the Great Depression celebrates the American spirit and especially American industry and its workers.
In a Museum storage vault for decades, a monumental mural painted in 1939 by an unknown artist, The Pageant of Transportation in California, is the dramatic centerpiece of this exhibition. The mural illustrates the story of hardy pioneers journeying westward, construction of railroads by Asian workers and culminates with a Flash Gordon-inspired vision of a city and rail transport of the future.
Devoted to photography, the Bunny and Miller Outcault Galleries feature Urban Life: Photography in the City. The exhibition includes photographs by noted east coast street photographers such as Garry Winogrand, European photographers such as Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson and the west coast documentary photographer Pirkle Jones, whose 1968 image of the defiant Black Panthers on the steps of the Alameda County Court House is an icon of the civil unrest of the 1960s and 1970s.