The Poet E.E. Cummings Was Likewise a Painter, and His 'Radical, Abstract' Work Is on View at the Whitney - Upsmag - Magazine News

The Poet E.E. Cummings Was Likewise a Painter, and His ‘Radical, Abstract’ Work Is on View at the Whitney

The poet E.E. Cummings, an unusual home name who brought progressive syntax to the daily reader, made up a minimum of one poem daily in between the ages of 8 and 22.

“At the Dawn of a New Age,” an exhibit at the Whitney Museum that checks out oft-forgotten American modernists active from 1900 through the 1930s, re-asserts Cummings as a similarly disciplined painter—and an advanced one at that.

The program, which is on view till February 26, 2023, takes its title from a quote by the literary critic Van Wyck Brooks. “America is living at the dawn of a brand-new age of humankind,” manager Barbara Haskell paraphrased for Artnet News. She curated the program particularly to present audiences to the upcoming Whitney Biennial to deep cuts from the museum’s long-term collection.

Setup view of “At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism.” Front left: E. E. Cummings, ‘Sound Number 13,’ 1925. Photo by Ron Amstutz. All pictures thanks to the Whitney Museum.

Putting together the program, nevertheless, challenged Haskell’s own presumptions about art history. “We think about early modernism as being a handful of artists,” she stated, “however in reality there was this broad swath of artists who were carrying the advancements of Cubism and Fauvism and turning it into a native-born American modernism.”

“That was the thrust of the program,” Haskell continued, “to burst the canon.”

The Whitney has actually assisted develop that canon, in reality. As a news release for the program notes, the Whitney commonly neglected works from early American modernists till the mid-1970s, because the museum’s commitment then lied with “the metropolitan realists who formed the core of the Whitney Studio Club,” a social company for artists established by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1918.

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Initial self-portrait by E.E. Cummings and his music. March 30, 2007. Picture by David Jennings/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Cam through Getty Images.

Haskell approximated almost 20 percent of the operate in “At the Dawn of a New Age” are brand-new acquisitions, consisting of Henrietta Coast’s Path of Life (1923). Simply under half have actually remained in storage for years. Albert Bloch’s Mountain (1916), for example, reemerged after a half-century in the archives to heading the program’s flier.

For this reason Cummings’s look along with the similarity Yun Gee, “now thought about among the most essential Asian American artists of the very first half of the 20th century,” according to Haskell, and Pamela Coleman Smith, who revealed with Stieglitz a year prior to he debuted Rodin’s watercolors.

The poet contributes an abstract oil painting entitled Sound Number 13, including geometries and unanticipated colors particular of the modernist visual. He painted the operate in 1925, upon returning from 3 years in Paris. Haskell sees the poet’s shock at the city in the cacophony in the painting.

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Henrietta Coast, Path of Life (1923).

After finishing from Harvard, Cummings transferred to New york city City. He made line drawing pictures for Dial Publication, and began revealing modernist works at the Society of Independent Artists. Right after, Cummings saw a program entitled “The Online forum,” which provided 17 leading American artists of that minute, consisting of Marguerite Zorach, who likewise appears in At the Dawn of a New Age.

“Cummings saw that program,” Haskell stated. “That motivated him to do a lot more extreme, more abstract work.” Now, the artists are reunited at the Whitney.

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Yun Gee, Street Scene (1926). Courtesy the estate of Yun Gee.

Cummings kept painting with the exact same discipline throughout his life, however as his poetry got steam, his visual experimentation decreased. He continued painting, however they were “a lot more conservative, reasonable photos,” Haskell stated. “To be definitely truthful, they weren’t as excellent.”

Like Cummings, the paintings practices of Pamela Coleman Smith, Henrietta Coast, and Agnes Pelton, who all appear in the exhibit, declined into the background by the 1930s. “That’s part of the story, too,” Haskell stated, “that they were so proficient at that minute.” However their experimentation and faith in the future stay classic.

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