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It can be argued that there are really two kinds of history. The first, written by journalists and historians, appears in books recounting the events that shaped our view of the world. The second, by artists, reveals how the world looked and felt at those times. Perhaps because this nation dominated the latter-century art world, the American art from the first half of the 20th century has been overshadowed. A time profoundly shaped by world wars and the Great Depression, that America could seem remote—until recently. Now that bank failures and vanished fortunes are making the era of Hoover and FDR seem familiar once again, much of this Recording of America expo of 60 works on paper from the Herbert D. Halpern collection, can seem eerily resonant.
Of course, Manhattan always had its bright lights. In 2 A.M Saturday Night by Martin Lewis, it is 1932 and three post-flapper women are crossing Broadway as a street cleaner hoses it down, and while nothing much is happening, the buoyancy of the women amid the gloom of the street conveys a sense of the times. Less sanguine is Claire Leighton’s contemporaneous Bread Line, New York, a stark view of an endless queue of men huddled against the cold under jagged skyscrapers.
Through March 26
Diboll Art Gallery, Loyola University, 861-5456; www.loyno.edu/dibollgallery~~~