An American in (love with) Paris

If you ever get a chance to see Charles Riley speak, take it. The author of Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism captivated the audience at the SBU Southampton Library’s second Art in Focus lecture on September 26th.  His fast-paced and wide-ranging talk captured the cultural and literary landscape of 1920s Paris as if you were there.


Drawing on a wealth of anecdote and insight, Riley traced the cross-pollination of ideas that made this such a creative time and place in history. His presentation highlighted themes and concepts that not only ran through the works of writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald but also coursed through the paintings of Fernand Léger and echoed in the music of Gershwin and Cole Porter.

Charles Riley in action, backed by jazz music digitized from the SBU Music Library.

If you want to immerse yourself, check out Free as Gods from the Southampton library. To sample some of the works influenced by the times, see:


The University Libraries’ Art in Focus Southampton events are co-sponsored by the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center and made possible by support from the John H. Marburger III Fund of Stony Brook University.


The third and final Southampton lecture for the fall will be Katy Siegel, Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Endowed Chair in Modern American Art at Stony Brook University. She’ll be discussing Mark Bradford’s site-specific installation for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale.  Register here.

Chris Kretz

Chris Kretz

Head of Academic Engagement at Stony Brook University Libraries
Chris is the Head of Academic Engagement.
Chris Kretz

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Posted in Art, Books, Dance, Events, History, Southampton