From the 1910s through the mid-20th century, artists in the United States and Latin America strove to define themselves in the face of prevailing European modernism. The 1913 Armory Show brought international avant-garde art to New York, highlighting a new visual language of abstraction: the fragmented and reassembled forms of Cubism and other contemporary movements. In the years that followed, artists throughout the Americas evaluated these shockingly new styles and fashioned their own responses to modernism.
A new generation of artists confronted European influence head-on, applying their own vision to subjects that resonated with meaning for North American and Latin American audiences. As urbanization increased, views of cities and their inhabitants proliferated. New York’s skyline rose rapidly, punctuated by a completely contemporary building type, the skyscraper. Smokestacks and railroads invaded the rural landscape, signaling changes in life and work. Artists responded by reassessing the relationship of humans to their increasingly industrialized environment. Fresh styles and subjects reflected life on this side of the Atlantic, bringing into focus the richly textured and multiple meanings of modernism in the Americas.