Styles, themes and subjects of American art created in the first half of the 20th century are examined in a traveling exhibition, My America: Art From the Jewish Museum Collection, 1900-1955. Originally organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, the show makes its way to the Bay Area, where it will be presented at the Judah L. Magnes Museum. With some 75 works on display, My America features pieces by such renowned artists as Mark Rothko, Ben Shahn, Adolph Gottlieb, Aaron Siskind, Raphael Soyer, Alfred Stieglitz and Max Weber. Paintings, photographs, sculpture and works on paper are included.
“The exhibit reveals patterns of Jewish art collecting in the 20th century,” said Alla Efimova, chief curator of the Magnes Museum. “It tells a story of Jewish acculturation in the United States, especially in the postwar period. On one hand, people were interested in art that represented Jewish heritage, but the art spoke in a universal, modern tone.”
Curated by The Jewish Museum’s associate curator, Karen Levitov, My America is organized in four chronological sections: “Becoming American” focuses on immigration in the early 20th century, “Striving for Social Justice” examines social change and the fight for labor reform, “Reacting to Tragedy” centers on World War II and “Moving Toward Abstraction” explores the postwar art scene.
“The exhibit is not didactic,” Efimova said. “It has strikingly moving and interesting work.”
The Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St., Berkeley; June 5-Sept. 21; Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thu. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; $6, $4 for seniors and students; free for children under 12. (510-549-6950 or www.magnes.org)