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T+L Reports: Americans Abroad

"The attitude toward artists is very different here than in America," the painter Stuart Davis wrote to his father from Paris in 1928. "They regard [art-making] as a reasonable way for a man to spend his time." Perhaps that explains why the American avant-garde flocked to Paris in the first half of the 20th century. Opening this month at the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago, "A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918-1939" highlights the work of30 expatriates, adding pieces by eight of the European artists with whom they feverishly exchanged ideas. From Davis, whose jazzy Parisian street scenes dance like Gene Kelly, to Lost Generation avatar Gerald Murphy, whose elegant, graphic canvases are precursors of Pop, to the ubiquitous Man Ray, Surrealism's unofficial photographer, the freshness and vitality of the expats' work recalls a statement Murphy made years after he returned home. "Although it took place in France," he said, "it was all somehow an American experience." (April 17-June 27).
—Leslie Camhi

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