Todros Geller, Strange Worlds, 1928, oil on canvas, 71.8 x 66.4 cm (Art Institute of Chicago), a Seeing America videoSpeakers: Sarah Alvarez, Director of School Programs, Department of Learning and Engagement, The Art Institute of Chicago and Steven Zucker
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Which visual element of the painting suggests the opposition between tradition and modernity?
The contrast between the foreground and the background
The influence of Cubism and Futurism
The compressed space surrounding the male figure in the foreground
The use of light colors illuminating details in the background
Strange Worlds underscores all of the following historical facts except
Chicago was an important destination during the Great Migration in the early 20th century
Fear of foreign influences led to growing anti-immigration sentiment in the US in the early 20th century
Growing industrialization in the United States led to increasing population in urban centers in the early 20th century
Immigration to the U.S. from Southern and Eastern Europe increased in the early 20th century
Which best describes the Great Migration?
A period when many African-Americans relocated from the South to Northern cities
An art movement interested in representing the dynamism of modern society
A time of growing anti-immigration sentiment and concern over foreign influence
Attacks on Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe that forced many to relocate to the U.S.
Geller’s depiction of immigrant experience was influenced by
His experiences as an immigrant from Eastern Europe
The discrimination faced by his grandparents when they arrived in the U.S.
The quick assimilation of immigrants into American culture
His interest in foreign newspapers
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The early twentieth century was a period of mass immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe to the United States.
Strange Worlds draws on modern European painting by fragmenting forms to suggest the immigrant struggle to adapt to life in the United States.
Anti-immigration sentiment and nativism arose in the U.S. during the early twentieth century, strengthening groups such as the Klu Klux Klan and prompting laws such as the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924.
Todros Geller represents aspects of his own experiences as an Eastern European Jew who immigrated to the U.S., but also represents the more general struggle to retain cultural identity in America.
Like the early twentieth century, immigration to the U.S. has resulted in divisive public rhetoric and political unrest today. How do the issues raised in contemporary discussions around immigration compare to the historical conditions seen in Geller’s painting?
Cite this page as: Sarah Alvarez, The Art Institute of Chicago and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Strange Worlds, immigrant experience in the early 20th century," in Smarthistory, February 5, 2018, accessed October 16, 2018, https://smarthistory.org/geller-strange-worlds-2/.