On the Edge of Your Seat: Popular Theater and Film in Early Twentieth-Century American Art

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American artists in the early decades of the twentieth century found rich inspiration in vaudeville halls, revue theaters, and moving-picture houses. The spectacular new visual attractions in these venues, emerging partly as a result of such technological advances as electrical lighting of the stage and the invention of motion pictures, emboldened artists to translate the arresting stimuli to their own medium. This handsomely illustrated book is the first devoted to American artists' responses to film, popular ...
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Overview

American artists in the early decades of the twentieth century found rich inspiration in vaudeville halls, revue theaters, and moving-picture houses. The spectacular new visual attractions in these venues, emerging partly as a result of such technological advances as electrical lighting of the stage and the invention of motion pictures, emboldened artists to translate the arresting stimuli to their own medium. This handsomely illustrated book is the first devoted to American artists' responses to film, popular theater, and other urban amusements from 1890 to 1930. The book presents more than one hundred paintings, drawings, watercolors, and photographs that convey the highly charged experience of attending vaudeville, early moving-picture shows, and other forms of popular amusements. These works of art reveal much about the beginnings of modernity in the United States and about how artists in early twentieth-century America searched for new pictorial vocabularies to express the profound change and dynamism of their time. The contributors to the volume represent a wide variety of expertise -- from art history to film to theater -- and they examine works by such key artists as Charles Demuth, Edward Hopper, Walt Kuhn, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, each of whom found a different formal and stylistic means to portray popular entertainment and, along the way, what it meant to be modern.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Similar in scope and execution to Donna Gustafson's recently published Images from the World Between: The Circus in 20th Century American Art, this lovely exhibition catalog of the eponymous art exhibition, curated by McDonnell of the University of Minnesota's Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, critically explores the influence of popular entertainment on American visual art from 1890 to 1930. The book is adorned with 95 color plates and 47 black-and-white illustrations, but unlike Images from the World Between, it is the text that steals the show. Among the ten essays explicating the wonder and pervasive influence of vaudeville, film, theater, and burlesque on American artists are contributions from noted academics Rebecca Zurier, Robert Silberman, and David Nashaw, who offers a particularly illuminating piece on the importance of electric lights. Other essays explore the work of specific artists like Charles Demuth, Edward Hopper, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan to reveal the nascent fascination and obsession with emerging forms of mass popular entertainment. A fine scholarly study best suited for academic and specialized collections. Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781885116116
  • Publisher: Weisman, Frederick R. Art Museum
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 219

Table of Contents

Director's Foreword IX
Acknowledgments XI
1 American Early Modern Artists, Vaudeville, and Film 3
2 It Begins with the Lights: Electrification and the Rise of Public Entertainment 45
3 "A Decided Sensation": Cinema, Vaudeville, and Burlesque 61
4 Setting the Stage for Motion Pictures 91
5 In Order: Fragmentation in Film and Vaudeville 107
6 Charles Demuth's Vaudeville Watercolors and the Rhythm and Spectacle of Modern Life 123
7 Edward Hopper and the Theater of the Mind: Vision, Spectacle, and the Spectator 137
8 Everett Shinn and the Intimate Spectacle of Vaudeville 157
9 City, Stage, and Screen: John Sloan's Urban Theater 175
10 "A Company of Ghosts, Playing to Spectral Music": Gesamtkunstkino and the Future of Digital Cinema 189
Selected Bibliography 202
Notes on the Authors 214
Index 216
Photo Credits 220
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