Skip to Main Content

Modern Masters

from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

On View:
Saturday, November 29, 2008 — Sunday, March 1, 2009


Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum examines the complex and heterogeneous nature of American art in the mid-twentieth century.

Featuring 31 of the most celebrated artists who came to maturity in the 1950s, the exhibition traces the history of this epochal period through 43 key paintings and sculpture selected from the Museum' collection. The exhibition is organized according to three broadly-conceived themes:

Grand Gestures explores the autographic mark, executed in sweeping strokes of brilliant color which became the expressive vehicle for Franz Kline, Michael Goldberg, Hans Hofmann, Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell and others who came to be known as abstract expressionists.

Optics and Order highlights Josef Albers, his exploration of mathematical proportion and carefully balanced color, and the artists who built on his ideas: Ilya Bolotowsky, Louise Nevelson, Esteban Vicente, Ad Reinhardt, and Anne Truitt.

New Images of Man includes Nathan Oliveira, Romare Bearden, Larry Rivers, Jim Dine, David Driskell and Grace Hartigan, each of whom searched their surroundings and personal lives for vignettes emblematic of larger, universal concerns.