This lustrous Taffeta Silk Dress (1940) with a zigzag motif was created by Mme. Jacques Worth, the wife of Charles Frederic Worth’s grandson Jacques. In the 20th century, the House of Worth continued its founder’s reinterpretation of historical styles in textile pattern and cut, and commissioned custom-made textiles from Lyonnaise manufacturers such as F. Ducharne Silk Company (1925 – 1940).
Edward Hopper’s 1940 painting, Gas, depicts an American gas station at the end of a highway — the subject being a composite of several gas stations Hopper had visited. According to his wife, the gas station motif was something he had wanted to paint for a long time. Hopper struggled with the painting, since he had begun to produce new paintings at a slower rate than before, and had trouble finding suitable gas stations to paint. The artist wanted to paint a station with the lights lit above the pumps, but the stations in his area only turned the lights on when it was pitch dark outside, to save energy.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Philip Guston created Gladiators (1940) in a style that merged Renaissance figure painting with what he called “cubist conceptions of space.” While working on Gladiators, Guston was also painting murals in New York as part of the Works Progress Administration program. The theme of fighting children seen here is adapted from Work and Play, a mural the artist completed in the lobby of the Queensbridge housing project in Long Island city, Queens, in 1940. Soon there after, Guston transitioned away from murals to the easel painting and abstract works for which he would later gain prominence.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
Pablo Picasso created this work, Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940) in the months prior to the German occupation of Royan, France, where he fled from Paris as the Nazis advanced across Europe. He depicted a woman inside a boxlike room barley bigger than her body; her massive figure is awkwardly compressed and her contorted body juts this way and that. Transforming a familiar and typically serene subject in art history — a woman grooming herself — into a powerful grotesque, Picasso lent expression to the anxiety and confinement that attended this dark period.
Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Rockwell Kent (1882 – 1971) was a self-proclaimed wanderer who felt most at home in the wilderness. His artistic and philosophical devotion to nature lead him to explore far-reaching places that served as inspiration for his rugged landscape paintings, as well as several published travelogues.
Moonlight, Winter (1940) depicts the farm in New York’s Adirondack mountains, where Kent eventually settled in 1927. The scene conjures the artist’s vision of a certain — if somewhat distant — harmony between there vastness of the night sky and the quaint shelter of human life.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.