The MET began with an introduction to American Art through the iconic work of the early 20th Century Artist Thomas Benton whose amazing panoramic America Today fills a whole room. The painting captures America at the start of the Great Depression, shortly after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. America was in the throes of questioning/celebrating its industrial strength and also embracing the jazz age as an escape from impending trauma.
This was a starting point for our wonderful tour guides who took us on a journey through American Art history since the American Revolution. I present key images here, together with sections from the audio tour.
The tour continued with this showcase of the differences between the founding of democracy in the USA around the time of Washington- with its reference back to the democracy and architecture of Greece, set against the kind of late 19th Century subversion of this classical ideal:
We were then offered this wonderful comparison between the rather aloof image of the British King George III and the image of George Washington which beautifully tweaks the regal image turning into something more human and approachable:
These last two paintings by Singer Sargent were presented as showing some close affinities with Henry James. James was a friend of Singer Sargent and they both had a rather liberated view of women. You will notice in the second painting how the strong image of the Mrs Stokes almost masks the image of her husband.
And here we have our grand finale group photo on the steps of the MET before we head off to the delights of Central Park. :