Benton exhibit inspired by “The Great Gatsby”
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 23:01
The Benton Museum of Art opened a new exhibition inspired by “The Great Gatsby” on Jan. 22.
The exhibition, entitled “Millionaires and Mechanics, Bootleggers and Flappers,” reflects the “Roaring Twenties” as they are portrayed in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, “The Great Gatsby,” which was published in 1925. Fitzgerald’s novel was chosen as the subject of UConn’s community reading project: UConn Reads. This is the second year of the UConn Reads project.
In order to provide context for “The Great Gatsby,” the exhibition creates a visual backdrop of the era. The exhibit features paintings and works on paper from the Benton’s permanent art collection. It includes works from artists such as Reginald Marsh and Edward Hopper. Ally Walton, an assistant curator at the Benton Museum of Art, created the exhibit.
While “The Great Gatsby” inspired the exhibit, it takes on a life of its own. Walton said, “In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the sort of scenes and settings that Fitzgerald builds in his novel are the inspiration for the exhibition, but we have also tried to move beyond that to give a sense of American art during the 1920’s and in the early twentieth century in general.”
Walton does this by placing pieces from differing schools of art that were contemporary to “The Great Gatsby” in the exhibition.
One school of art featured in the exhibition is the Ashcan school, which is best known for displaying scenes of everyday life in New York City’s poorer communities. The Ashcan School was a realist art movement. Several members of the Ashcan School are featured in the exhibit, including Robert Henri and Everett Shinn. Henri was an influential member of the Ashcan School since he trained many of the artists who were part of it. One enchanting piece on display by Henri is “Desnudo,” which is one of the more eye-catching pieces in the exhibit due to its prominent size and use of nudity. One of Shinn’s pieces, “The Dancer,” catches the eye due to its vibrant use of color and its almost ethereal quality.
“Wild Party“ by Reginald Marsh fits in well with the wild parties Jay Gatsby, the titular character of “The Great Gatsby“ threw. This piece was likely the most representative of the raucous 1920s due to its depiction of the excesses of the era.
Museum-goers can come away from the exhibition with a better sense of the time period in which “The Great Gatsby” is set by going to see the exhibition at the Benton.
Diane Lewis the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator of the Benton offered this advice to museumgoers, “The text panels are the best place to start when viewing the exhibition.”
The exhibition will be on display until Mar. 17, and a Gallery Talk will be held on Thursday Feb. 21 at 12:15 p.m.