This fascinating exhibition at The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) presents a selection of 90 works of art from the museum collection created during a seminal period in the history of 20th century American art. Addressing a significant core of the UIMA collection, from Jackson Pollock’s 1943 Mural and other gifts from collector Peggy Guggenheim, to works by Grant Wood, the exhibition provides a broad cultural overview of the terms and motivations of American modernism, with specific focus on Iowa as a hotbed of controversy and innovation, a place where the American Scene clashed with the avant-garde in ways that were central to the ongoing national debate over the future of American art.
Hardly a provincial regional outpost, the University of Iowa was uniquely positioned as a nexus of the modern art world, with prominent individuals and events that helped define the era and set aesthetic and ideological standards for the decades that followed. During this remarkable period the University was simultaneously the center of the Regionalist art movement, with Grant Wood as its most prominent and exemplary spokesman, and an emerging hub of the most progressive forms of modern art. In the early-to-mid 1940s, new professors and students set different standards positioning Iowa’s art collection as the repository of some of the most significant images of the 20th century.
It’s “a stampede… [of] every animal in the American West, cows and horses and antelopes and buffaloes. Everything is charging across that goddamn surface.” —Jackson Pollock