The 1930s: The Making of "The New Man"

06 Jun 2008 - 07 Sep 2008

Exclusively at the National Gallery of Canada In the history of the modern world, the decade between the Wall Street stock market crash of October 1929 and the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, stands out for its political tensions and contradictions in both Europe and North America. This troubling and complex period is reflected in its art, where tradition and modernity frequently clashed. Politically, the decade was marked by the rise of totalitarianism in Europe. In Italy, Germany and Soviet Russia leaders appeared whose agendas—constructed on a pseudo-scientific foundation and claiming to lead the masses towards a brighter day by creating a kind of homogenous, ideal individual—were skilfully disseminated by ideological propaganda about the “New Man.” On the artistic front, painters, sculptors, photographers and filmmakers were fascinated with biology, the science of life; intense work was done using biomorphic forms, the primordial egg and the cell, in an attempt to revitalize the values and norms of representation. Revisiting the pre-WWII years by focusing on the interest generated by biology allows us to compare two areas on which it had an impact: the arts, where the idea of metamorphosis produced an aesthetic revival; and politics, where the struggle to bring about a eugenic and racist renewal had unprecedented consequences for society. Take this unique opportunity to see over 200 works by eminent European and North American Artists. The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man” is the must-see exhibition of the summer at the National Gallery of Canada.


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