American artists in the early decades of the 20th century found rich inspiration in vaudeville halls, revue theatres and moving-picture houses. The spectacular new visual attractions in these venues, emerging partly as a result of such technological advances as electrical lighting of the stage and the invention of motion pictures, emboldened artists to translate the arresting stimuli to their own medium. This illustrated work is devoted to American artists' responses to film, popular theatre, and other urban amusements from 1890 to 1930.
The volume presents more than 100 paintings, drawings, watercolours and photographs that convey the highly-charged experience of attending vaudeville, early moving-picture shows, and other forms of popular amusements. These works of art reveal much about the beginnings of modernity in the United States and about how artists in early 20th-century America searched for new pictorial vocabularies to express the profound change and dynamism of their time. The contributors to the volume represent a wide variety of expertise - from art history to film to theatre - and they examine works by such key artists as Charles Demuth, Edward Hopper, Walt Kuhn, Everett Shinn and John Sloan, each of whom found a different formal and stylistic means to portray popular entertainment and, along the way, what it meant to be modern.