ATHENS, GA.- The Georgia Museum of Art
at the University of Georgia presents the exhibition Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 18831950, from Sept. 17 to Dec. 11, 2016.
Icon of Modernism includes 40 paintings, watercolors, works on paper and photographs that all take the Brooklyn Bridge as a subject. Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museums curator of American art, chose works of art created between the completion of the bridge (1883) and the mid-20th century to show how artistic representations of it changed over time, even as it symbolized modernity for different generations. From American impressionism to abstract expressionism, the details of how artists presented the bridge changed, but its ability to stand for the modern era remained.
When it opened, the Brooklyn Bridge was a phenomenon, and many commemorative objects featuring the bridge were produced. Other museums have shown the wide variety of these objects, but we decided to focus on the aesthetic portion alone, explains Gillespie, who was tasked with organizing the exhibition when the museum hired her in 2014.
Although it may seem strange for Athens, Georgia, to host an exhibition on a structure so tied to New York City, descendants of John A. Roebling, who designed the bridge, lived in Athens for many years. Portraits of Margaret Allison and Ferdinand William Roebling have been on view in the museums permanent collection galleries. In addition, the museums collection overlaps strongly with the span of time the exhibition covers; an exhibition of related works from that collection is 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, Georgia OKeeffe and Reginald Marsh and photographers Edward Steichen, Walker Evans, Weegee and Consuelo Kanaga. Four works in the exhibition come from the museums own collection, but the remainder are on loan from museums, corporate collections and private collections across the country. An illustrated catalogue published by the museum accompanies Icon of Modernism, with scholarly essays by Gillespie, Janice Simon (Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of Art History in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, UGA), Meredith Ward and Kimberly Orcutt.