Classics-Art 300 Lectures 15-17

Lecture 15: America in the 1930s- the Great Depression

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A. End of the 1920s Boom Years

   1. October-November, 1929- stock market loses 30 billion dollars
   2. Prosperity is just around the corner-- President Herbert Hoover
   3. Hoovervilles- he follow laisez-faire, self-help
   4. New words in the American vocabulary--economize, layoffs, depression, the wolf is at the door, stress

B. 1931 -

   1. September- 305 banks fold
   2. October- 522 banks fold
   3. "Posterity is just around the corner"
   4. The business of the U.S. Is business

C. 1932- 13 million jobless

   1. Oversupply of apples
   2. Shops closed with soaped windows
   3. Migrants and transiants with cars
   4. Grapes of Wrath
   5. Empty skyscrapers, jumping from skyscrapers, impotence
   6. Streetwalkers, no meat to be found
   7. Bonus Marchers coverup and shooting

D. 1933- rock bottom- the obsession with money, Broadway shows fold

   1. Old man depression, golddiggers
   2. U.S. Escapes into fantasy
   3. Breadlines, bank crises, one third of New York jobless
   4. Enactment of the BANKING ACT OF 1933 - called the GLASS - STEAGALL ACT - Why is this critically important now?

E. Franklin Delano Roosevelt= FDR [view image of FDR signing the Banking Act of 1933]

   1. Cripple who triumphed over polio
   2. Used developing media- fireside chats
   3. Sound bites- a day that will live in infamy, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself
   4. H.L. Mencken" "that Christian Science smile", exudes confidence
   5. The Brain Trust
   6. Eleanor Roosevelt- compassion, seven cent lunches   
   7. The New Deal- NRA, "We do our part", victory eagle
   8. WPA, CCC, CWA

F. Movies in the I930s- Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

   1. "A vital connection with American emotions"
   2. Operative center of the nation's consciousness
   3. Cultural artefacts for the archaeologist
   4. Escapism and optimism, scapegoats, the myth of the mobile society, rags to riches

G. Eddie Cantor- (1892-1964) Symbol of Hope in American Depression

   1. Isidor Iskowitch, the Russian Jew
   2. Mother dies in childbirth when he is one, his father an unemployed violinist dies when he is two
   3. Orphan boy of the streets of the Lower East Side, wins Bowery Amateur Show in 1908
   4. Star of vaudeville and Ziegfeld Follies- blackface comic
   5. Peppy, enthusiastic, banjo eyes, non-stop wisecracks
   6. The Adam Sandler of his day-- "The Kid", an innocent who wins

 Sheet Music from the 1933 movie sheet music from the 1933 movie

Lecture 16: Roman Scandals (1933)

A. Significance:

   1. View of ancient Rome but satire of Cecil B. DeMille epic films like Sign of the Cross, Cleopatra
   2. Escapist fun but formula was to show exotic and ancient places through eyes of contemporary society
   3. Optimism- Eddie Cantor lost all in 1929, but earns $450,000 in 1933

B. Film Strikes Nerve with Weary American People

   1. Eddie is The Kid- penniless, honest, generous, slightly naughty, optimistic, the common man
   2. Authorities can be corrupt- people displaced from homes
   3. People in street but survive on "happiness alone"
   4. Influence of vaudeville- scene with Roman soldiers is a Ziegfeld routine
         1. Florenz Ziegfeld and the Ziegfeld Follies
         2. Eddie Cantor one of the greatest stars

C. Depression Modern Art (1930-1939)

   1. Evolves as a response to Art Deco
   2. Art Deco- originates in Paris 1925
  [view image of Carlton Ware with Egyptian Papyrus Design 1925 Art Deco]

   Preiss, Art Deco Amazon Clock 1925 [view image]
    3. Simpler, clearer, curved, streamlined like an airplane or ship, white
    4. The influence of Raymond Loewy                   

         Raymond Loewy and his

         Depression Modern K45

         Diesel for Pennsylvania Railroad

    5. Style of reason- relax from pressures of complicated modern life, be simpler and more modern, avoid depression worries   

   6. FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT- JOHNSON WAX BUILDING, RACINE, WISCONSIN 1937 [view images of Guggeneheim Museum in New York City and the interior of the Johnson's Wax]

B. Roman Scandals (1933)- designed by Robert Day

   1. The Both- And- Style-- both Classical and Depression Modern
   2. Walter Darwin Teague- things in olden days were simpler
         1. Modern materials bring simpler life of earlier days
         2. Modern materials with Greek and Latin prefixes!
         3. Cellophane, Duotherm, Herculon
         4. Ancient Rome perceived of as WHITE and WHITE is IN  

C. The Empire State Building (1930-1 ) on 5th Ave., New York City

   1. Both a skyscraper and Depression Modern Both- And- Style
   2. Raymond Shreve, William Lamb, Arthur Harmon
   3. Artistic functionalism replacing Art Deco-- be streamlined
   4. Balloon tethering believed a possibility

D. Russell Wright- curved, blonde, angles are out in the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress exhibition

Russell Wright Silverware in Depression 
Russell Wright Silverware in Depression

Modern Style 1930

E. Everything is streamlined! Women too! End of the flapper era.

Lecture 17- Busby Berkeley and the "Modern Musical"
[view two images from Busby Berkeley musicals 1, 2]

A. Modern Materials- cellophane, plastics, glass, metal alloys

   1. Seek the primitive and unadorned look
   2. Cult of nude female form
   3. Cult of light- passion for the sun and the machine

B. Busby Berkeley's Slave Market Sequence

   1. One of the most bizarre visions of the ancient world ever put on f i I m
   2. Ruth Etting, torch singer
         1. Martin Moe Snyder, the floating voter and smuggler, DA informant, her manager in Chicago
         2. 1927- Ziegfeld Follies
         3. 1930-1933- Ettingmania, 1931 Roxy Xmas Show Blouses, hosiery and ice cream sundaes
         4. 1937- Myron Alderman
         5. 1938- Huge lawsuit for alienation of affection
         6. 1939- death of her only daughter from rheumatic fever
         7. 1941 - the great plane crash and mental illness
   3. The Busby Berkeley Wedding Cake look
         1. Cult of the female form and blonde hair
         2. Family film with vision of ancient Roman bondage and beating
         3. Berkeley- lecherous alcoholic with casting couch who crashes car and kills person and gets away with it
         4. Vision of ancient Romans as sadistic and cruel, legacy of Christian attitudes to Rome

C. The Tradition of Blackface Entertainment

   1. The Minstrel Show
   2. Racism - characteristics of the "Negro"
   3. Lew Dockstader, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor
   4. Black composers such as James Bland neglected, artists such  as Billie Holiday and Bert  Williams live tragic lives

D. All Groups Insulted

   1. Insult comedy vanishes with World War 11
   2. Italians, Irish, Blacks, Jews stereotyped and insulted
   3. Van and Schenck- Gus Van and Joe Schenck, Ziegfeld stars and insult singers typical of the time

C. The Thirties Blonde- Gloria Stuart

D. The Speed Movie and the Cult of Speed

E. Parody- takeoffs on Cleopatra and Ben Hur