Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008
For 150 years, Coney Island has lured artists as a microcosm and icon of American culture. Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008 is the first major exhibition to explore the kaleidoscopic visual record they created, documenting the historic destination’s beginnings as a watering hole for the wealthy, its transformation into a popular beach resort and amusement mecca, its decades of urban decline culminating in the closing of Astroland, and its recent revival as a vibrant and growing community.
This exhibition charts shifts in artistic styles and national moods through approximately 140 objects. Included are paintings of the Coney Island shore in the 1870s by William Merritt Chase and John Henry Twachtman; modernist depictions of the amusement park by Joseph Stella; Depression-era scenes of cheap thrills by Reginald Marsh; photographs by Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Weegee, and Bruce Davidson; Coney Island carousel animals and sideshow ephemera; and contemporary works by Daze and Swoon.