When There Were People

In the City recalls a time before Things became God

But from the scandalous, the exhibit moves to the faceless. As the '40s begin, the artists abandon their novelistic depictions of people for cold but booming faÁades; it's as if the Depression and the war that followed hurt so many so much that we couldn't look at vulnerable humans anymore. The cities grow, strong and proud, and their inhabitants and their struggles are not only irrelevant but also invisible. It's all in the geometry, the angle—and the once proud (feminine) curve is replaced in toto with the masculine straight line. This part of the exhibit, while firm and architectural, is sterile and frightening. A little would have gone a long way. Let's blame Europe, shall we?

"In the City: Urban Views 1900-1940" at the Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122. Through Jan. 23. Free.
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