Book Signing and Presentation
Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 11:00am.
"Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism" by Charles A. Riley, II, PhD.  

Art critic, curator, professor, and the new Director of Nassau County Museum of Art, Charles A. Riley, II will be presenting an illustrated lecture on his new book that features a lively, wide-ranging look at the connections inside the core group of avant-garde artists in Jazz Age Paris. 

Among many art, music and literature lovers, particularly devotees of modernism, the expatriate community in France during the Jazz Age represents a remarkable convergence of genius in one place and period—one of the most glorious in history. Drawn by the presence of such avant-garde figures as Joyce and Picasso, artists and writers fled the Prohibition in the United States and revolution in Russia to head for the free-wheeling scene in Paris, where they made contact with rivals, collaborators, and a sophisticated audience of collectors and patrons. The outpouring of boundary-pushing novels, paintings, ballets, music, and design was so profuse that it belies the brevity of the era (1918–1929).

Drawing on unpublished albums, drawings, paintings, and manuscripts, Charles A. Riley offers a fresh examination of both canonic and overlooked writers and artists and their works, by revealing them in conversation with one another. He illuminates social interconnections and artistic collaborations among the most famous—Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gershwin, Diaghilev, and Picasso—and goes a step further, setting their work alongside that of African Americans such as Sidney Bechet, Archibald Motley Jr., and Langston Hughes, and women such as Gertrude Stein and Nancy Cunard. His biographical and interpretive celebration of the many masterpieces of this remarkable group shows how the creative community of postwar Paris supported astounding experiments in content and form that still resonate today.

"Riley’s book presents a great romp through one of the richest periods of artistic creation ever: Paris, 1918 to 1929. Newcomers and seasoned culture lovers alike will be treated to a fresh, full discussion of the artists, writers and musicians of the period and their dazzling paintings, writings and compositions." — Kenneth Wayne, author of Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse

Charles A. Riley, II, PhD

Charles A. Riley, II, PhD

About the Author
Curator, art critic, professor of English, and the new Director of Nassau County Museum of Art, Charles A. Riley, II is the author of more than twenty books on the arts, as well as hundreds of features, news articles, exhibition catalogue essays, and reviews published in national and international magazines. He is a graduate of Princeton University.