From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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The 1930s (pronounced "nineteen-thirties", commonly abbreviated as the "Thirties") lasted from January 1, 1930 to December 31, 1939.
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the largest stock market crash in American history, most of the decade was consumed by an economic downfall called the Great Depression that had a traumatic effect worldwide, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty, especially in the United States, an economic superpower, and Germany, who had to deal with the reparations regarding World War I. The Dust Bowl (which gives the nickname the Dirty Thirties) in the United States further emphasised the scarcity of wealth. Herbert Hoover worsened the situation with his failed attempt to balance the budget by raising taxes. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected, as a response, in 1933, and introduced the New Deal. The founding of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the funding of numerous projects (e.g. the Hoover Dam) helped restore prosperity in the US.
Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes emerged in several countries in Europe and South America, in particular the Third Reich in Germany. Germany elected Adolf Hitler, who imposed the Nuremberg Laws, a series of laws which discriminated against Jews and other ethnic minorities. Weaker states such as Ethiopia, China, and Poland were invaded by expansionist world powers, the last of these attacks leading to the outbreak of the World War II on September 1, 1939, despite calls from the League of Nations for worldwide peace. World War II helped end the Great Depression when governments spent money for the war effort. The 1930s also saw a proliferation of new technologies, especially in the fields of intercontinental aviation, radio, and film.
- The 1916 invention of thin, disposable latex condoms for men led to widespread affordable condoms by the 1930s; the demise of the Comstock laws in 1936 set the stage for promotion of available effective contraceptives.
- 1930 L'Age d'Or (1930) - Luis Bunuel
- 1931 Solar Anus (1927/1931) - Georges Bataille
- 1932 Journey to the End of the Night (1932) - by Louis-Ferdinand D. Céline
- 1933 Nazis Rise to Power (1933-1945)
- 1934 The Ethics of Sexual Acts (1934) - René Guyon
- 1935 The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Walter Benjamin
- 1936 Modern Times (1936) - Charlie Chaplin
- 1937 Germany, Degenerate Art exhibition, Guernica (1937) - Pablo Picasso
- 1938 Hitler man of the year in Time Magazine
- 1939 Avant-Garde and Kitsch - Clement Greenberg
- In the art of filmmaking, the Golden Age of Hollywood entered a whole decade, after the advent of talking pictures ("talkies") in 1927 and full-color films in 1930: more than 50 classic films were made in the 1930s:
- M (1931) - Fritz Lang
- Extase (1932)
- Freaks (1932)
- Vampyr (1932) - Carl Theodor Dreyer
- Duck Soup (1933) - Leo McCarey
- The Black Cat (1934)
- Modern Times (1936)
- Reefer Madness (1936)
- Things to Come (1936)
- Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations
- "Golden Age" of radio begins in U.S.
- First intercontinental commercial airline flights
- Height of the Art Deco movement in Europe and the US
- The film The Wizard of Oz immortalized tornadoes, songs (Somewhere Over the Rainbow), the characters, and "Toto" too.
- "Swing" music starts becoming popular (from 1935 onward). It gradually replaces the sweet form of Jazz that had been popular for the first half of the decade.
- Film's Golden Age sex symbols include 1930s stars Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow (the 'Platinum Blonde'), Mae West and Clark Gable.
- The Golden Age of American animation: Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse series, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937 film); Ub Iwerks' Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper; Walter Lantz's Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; Fleischer Studios' Talkartoons, Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor; Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies; Charles B. Mintz's Scrappy.
- Popular newspaper comic strips include The Phantom, Terry and the Pirates, and Thimble Theater (featuring Popeye the Sailor).
- Collections of reprinted comic strips evolve into modern comic books, and costumed pulp heroes lead to the creation of the superhero genre. The Golden Age of Comic Books begins with Superman's debut in Action Comics #1.
- Russ Columbo, one of the most popular singers of the decade, accidentally dies in 1934.
- Triumph of the Will
- Belgian cartoonist Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin
- The world's tallest building (for the next 35 years) was constructed, opening as the Empire State Building on May 3, 1931 in New York City, USA;
Literature and art
- Height of the Art Deco movement in North America and Western Europe.
- Notable poetry include W. H. Auden's Poems.
- Notable literature includes F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (1934), J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937), Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937), Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (1937), John Dos Passos's U.S.A trilogy, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (1930) and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra (1934) and Butterfield 8 (1935).
- Notable "hardboiled" crime fiction includes Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934).
- Notable plays include Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938).
- Near the end of the decade, two of the world's most iconic superheroes and recognizable fictional characters were introduced in comic books; Superman first appeared in 1938, and Batman in 1939.
- The pulp fiction magazines began to feature distinctive, gritty adventure heroes that combined elements of hard boiled detective fiction and the fantastic adventures of the earlier pulp novels. Two particularly noteworthy characters introduced were Doc Savage and The Shadow, who would later influence the creation of characters such as Superman and Batman.
List of books
- 1939 in literature - The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West; The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck; How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn
- 1938 in literature - La Nausée - Jean-Paul Sartre; The Sword in the Stone - T. H. White
- 1937 in literature - Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck; Journal d'un Curé de Campagne (Diary of a Country Priest) - Georges Bernanos
- 1936 in literature - Jamaica Inn - Daphne du Maurier
- 1935 in literature - Penguin Books publishes the first paperback
- 1934 in literature - I, Claudius - Robert Graves; Goodbye, Mr. Chips - James Hilton; Tender Is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald; Supernatural Horror in Literature - H. P. Lovecraft -year completed (1925-34)
- 1933 in literature - Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain; La Condition Humaine (Man's Fate) - André Malraux
- 1932 in literature - Brave New World - Aldous Huxley; Voyage au Bout de la Nuit (Journey to the End of the Night) - Louis-Ferdinand Céline
- 1931 in literature - The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck; first Maigret novel by Georges Simenon
- 1930 in literature - The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett; Luigi Pirandello's The Man With the Flower in His Mouth becomes the first broadcast television drama
- W. H. Auden publishes Poems.
- Zora Neale Hurston publishes Their Eyes Were Watching God.
- The novel To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, is set in this time frame.
- One of the pioneering hardboiled crime fictions, The Big Sleep written by Raymond Chandler, is both set and published in this time frame.
Social Realism became an important art movement during the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s. Social realism generally portrayed imagery with socio-political meaning. Other related American artistic movements of the 1930s were American scene painting and Regionalism which were generally depictions of rural America, and historical images drawn from American history. Precisionism with its depictions of industrial America was also a popular art movement during the 1930s in the USA. During the Great Depression the art of Photography played an important role in the Social Realist movement. The work of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine, Edward Steichen, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, Doris Ulmann, Berenice Abbott, Aaron Siskind, Russell Lee, Ben Shahn (as a photographer) among several others were particularly influential.
The Works Progress Administration part of the Roosevelt Administration's New Deal sponsored the Federal Art Project, the Public Works of Art Project, and the Section of Painting and Sculpture which employed many American artists and helped them to make a living during the Great Depression.
Mexican muralism was a Mexican art movement that took place primarily in the 1930s. The movement stands out historically because of its political undertones, the majority of which of a Marxist nature, or related to a social and political situation of post-revolutionary Mexico. Also in Latin America Symbolism and Magic Realism were important movements.
In Europe during the 1930s and the Great Depression, Surrealism, late Cubism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Dada, German Expressionism, Expressionism, Symbolist and modernist painting in various guises characterized the art scene in Paris and elsewhere.
- 1939 in art - Birth of Spider Martin
- 1938 in art - Birth of Joan Brown, Brice Marden, Eugene J. Martin, Death of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, William Glackens
- 1937 in art - Birth of David Hockney, Ronald Davis, Red Grooms, Robert Mangold, Larry Zox, Pablo Picasso paints Guernica
- 1936 in art - Birth of Richard Estes, Eva Hesse, Frank Stella,
- 1935 in art - Birth of Jim Dine, Don McCullin, Death of Charles Demuth, Paul Signac
- 1934 in art - Birth of Patrick Ireland
- 1933 in art - Birth of Sam Gilliam, Yoko Ono, James Rosenquist, Dan Flavin
- 1932 in art - Birth of Howard Hodgkin, Paul Caponigro
- 1931 in art - Births of Frank Auerbach, Bridget Riley, Tom Wesselmann
- 1930 in art - Birth of Jasper Johns, Death of Jules Pascin
Books about the 1930s