The industrial revolution sparked a divide between town and country. As the nineteenth century progressed, cities transformed into metropolises—busy hubs of enterprise with ever-growing populations and places of unexpected encounter, sophistication, danger, oppression, and alluring exoticism. Their counterpart, the countryside, was increasingly characterized as simple, honest, and, at times, idyllic. This exhibition will trace how artists shifted their focus between the city and country and examine how these images of urban and rural life changed in relation to the social and political climate in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Some artists continued to explore the possibilities of oil paint; for others, the emergence of new printing and photographic technologies allowed others to explore the subjects of the modern world from new vantage points and in new media. Through paintings, photographs, lithographs, and other works on paper, this exhibition will examine the broad range of new subjects that emerged out of modernization—urban landscapes and laboring peasants, street urchins and nightlife, rural satire and café culture—created by some of the greatest artists of the past 150 years.
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