October 20-February 4, 2023

From Boom to Bust: Modernism, Regionalism, & Social Realism (1920-1940)

October 20 – February 4, 2023

Selections from the permanent collection co-curated with Todd Giles, PhD, Associate Professor of English

From Boom to Bust brings together in conversation a diverse array of American artists, authors, and cinematographers from the boom of post-World War I through the bust of the Great Depression. Artists represented include Modernists such as Joseph Pennell and John Marin, Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton and Blanche McVeigh, and Social Realists John Sloan and Martin Lewis. Modernists experimented with form; Social Realists critiqued class inequities in the over-crowed cities; and Regionalists looked back nostalgically to our rural agrarian beginnings. Some were friends; others foes. Some avant-garde; others traditionalists. In common they were Americans passionately representing the nation as they saw it firsthand.


Ways to engage with this exhibition:


Discussion and Opening Reception
October 20, 5-7:00 pm
Discussion begins at 5:30 pm
Reception to follow

The Vault Unlocked Podcast
Dive deeper into select works of art in this exhibition in The Vault Unlocked, a podcast by Todd Giles, PhD. Todd is a regular guest writer about works in the WFMA Permanent Collection and co-curator of this exhibition as well as the WFMA Faculty Liaison, helping other MSU faculty connect to the power of exhibition-based learning.

Listen to Mabel Dwight




Blanche McVeigh, Furrows, c. 1935, Etching; Gift of Beth and David Dike, 1994.

Joseph Pennell, Caissons on Vesey Street, 1924, Etching; Museum purchase, 1975.