The Santa Barbara Museum of Art plans to host a virtual Arts Matters lecture, “Ashes to Dust: American Art and the Dreadful Thirties.”
The Zoom talk will feature Justin Wolff, art history professor at the University of Maine. The program is set for 3 p.m. Sept. 2.
The lecture will explore two catastrophes unfolding during the 1930s in the U.S. One was the Dust Bowl. The other was hypothetical: the end of the world.
The talk will cover paintings, prints and photos by several artists, but focuses on Arthur Rothstein’s 1936 Dust Bowl photos of Texas and Oklahoma. The program will also discuss Rockwell Kent’s “End of the World” lithographs, which were published in 1937 in Life magazine.
According to the Museum of Art, “Rothstein’s iconic photographs depict an unprecedented ecological disaster, and Kent’s prints illustrate four possible scenarios of cosmic doom — the moon crashing into the earth, for instance, and a sudden solar flare-up — proposed by Hayden Planetarium astronomers in New York.
“Though very different artists, Rothstein and Kent produced images that were popular despite their appalling content,” the museum continued in its news release. “Their visualizations of apocalyptic events, which were published in scientific journals and popular periodicals, reflected the widespread existential fears about economic depression, agricultural disaster, and European fascism that characterized the 1930s.
“By interpreting the artworks and considering how they were distributed to the American public, this talk demonstrates the psychological and aesthetic processes that structured feelings of dread during the decade.”
The talk costs $10 for Enthusiast Members and below and $15 for nonmembers. It’s free for students and Curator’s Circle Members and above.
To purchase, visit tickets.sbma.net. Or stop by the Visitor Services desks at the museum, 1130 State St.