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The Great Cities' zenith early in the 20th century inspired an international avant garde movement celebrating ordinary elements of the built environment, with music, architecture, film and performance innovations.

Starting with Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's 1921 classic "Manhatta" (left), wordless collages include (clockwise): the Russian "Man with a Movie Camera" (1929, Dziga Vertov), Floret's "Skyscraper Symphony" (1929), Ruttmann's "Barlin: Symphony of a Great City" (1927). 

The ART: 

images, words, ideas, feelings

Design and architecture invoked classical civilizations, such as in these trade journals and event posters (right), and paid tribute to other cultures (bottom).

Realtor visionary art
Realtor magazine progressive art
1920s art deco magazine cover
1920s visionary urban art
1920s Art Deco cover art
Buffalo Pan American Expo poster

Writers from Walt Whitman to Charles Dickens  were fascinated by burgeoning 19th century places, and poets from Langston Hughes to today's slam poets grew from gritty 20th century cities:




    What happens to a dream deferred?


    Does it dry up

    like a raisin in the sun?

    Or fester like a sore—

    And then run?

    Does it stink like rotten meat?

    Or crust and sugar over—

    like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags

    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?


Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes.

Cities have driven popular music for over a century. Harlem Jazz, Memphis Rockabilly, Detroit's Motown, Seattle grunge...

"A Great Day in Harlem" (below), a collection of 57 jazz greats, from the Art Kane archives (www.harlem org)

You don't have to have money, status, power. You may be down, but you will not be excluded. Beautiful public spaces (right) are everywhere.

The Jewel Box Conservatory
World's Fair Pavilion
Adler Planetarium
Chicago's Chinatown
Bronzeville statue in Chicago
southwest Detroit Mexican mural
elevated train in Chicago southside
Detroit Depression-era jobs program
Public space on Chicago's lakefront
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