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From New York to New Mexico

Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection

(Philbrook, 2727 S. Rockford Rd.) From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection explores the fertile period in our national story that resulted in America’s first truly homegrown, avant-garde movement. Drawn from the Vilcek Foundation Collection in New York City and organized by the Philbrook Museum of Art, this exhibition presents over 50 masterworks of American modernism ranging from the early 1910s to the Post-War era. The exhibition presents a range of modern stylistic approaches in various media (paintings, sculptures, and works on paper) with particular emphasis given to American cubism, the nature-based abstractions of the Stieglitz Circle, and the regional modernism of the American Southwest. Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Oscar Bluemner, and Stuart Davis are among the numerous artists and icons of the early modern era represented. These vanguards of early twentieth-century art created a vibrant new language of abstraction that was distinctly national in subject and character and that drew from their surroundings in urban centers like New York, as well as rural retreats like New Mexico. Their varying formal approaches and contextual concerns are explored through the exhibition’s four main sections.

The first thematic chapter of the exhibition, The Cubist Impulse, examines American artists’ interpretation of form and dynamic movement through their use of early twentieth-century aesthetic and scientific theory. The next interpretive section, Nature’s Great Unfolding, focuses predominantly upon select artists of the Stieglitz Circle and their collective interest in the transcendental power of nature. Man Made examines urban and rural architectural sources, as well as figurative motifs, underlying the modernists’ understanding of form and structure. The final thematic category, Our Western Roots, explores how the American Southwest served as a spiritual oasis for many disillusioned east coast artists who sought greater calm and restorative freedom after the devastation of the First World War.

The Vilcek Foundation, established in 2000, has rich holdings in American modernism, as well as Southwestern Pueblo pottery and Pre-Columbian art. The Foundation is partnering with Philbrook Museum of Art to provide greater national access to their world-class collection before it comes to rest permanently in the Foundation’s forthcoming exhibition space in New York City. From New York to New Mexico will travel to Phoenix Art Museum and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in 2015.

Curated by Catherine Whitney.

  • Philbrook

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