Next month, an exhibit of master Modern paintings from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum will travel to the Springfield Museums. American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell opens on June 6 at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and will be on display through August 31, 2014. American Moderns has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum; the exhibit’s local sponsors are Field Eddy, Inc. and Lyman and Leslie Wood. MassMutual is the 2014 Premier sponsor of the Springfield Museums.
This exhibition of fifty-one paintings and four sculptures explores the myriad ways in which American artists engaged the concept of modernity. Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Rockwell Kent, Joseph Stella, Elie Nadelman, and Norman Rockwell are among the artists represented with significant works that exemplify their unique contributions to modern culture. The exhibit also underscores the D'Amour Museum of Fine Art's own outstanding collection of 20th century American art, which includes works by O'Keeffe and Rockwell as well as George Bellows, Isabel Bishop, Lyonel Feininger, and Reginald Marsh, among others.
In the five decades between 1910 and 1960, both American society and art underwent tumultuous and far-reaching transformations. During this period, the United States emerged as an international power of economic, industrial, and military might, while also experiencing two world wars and the Great Depression. New technologies fundamentally changed the pace and nature of all aspects of modern life, while America’s increasingly diverse and mobile population challenged old social patterns and clamored for the equality and opportunities promised by the American dream.
Art witnessed similarly dramatic transformations, as many artists rejected or reformulated artistic traditions and sought new ways to make their work relevant in a contemporary context. The range of works in the exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to explore multiple themes such as city life, the figure, landscape, still life, and Americana. Heroic depictions of the muscled, active bodies of laborers who fueled the economy and of athletes who embodied the new cult of physicality serve as expressions of the nation’s self-confidence. Both nature and everyday objects were the focus of creative experimentation with new styles, decorative compositions, and the formal properties of line, color, volume, and space.
The Springfield Museums are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Sunday, 11 am-5 pm. Extended hours for the summer include Mondays 10 am – 5 pm from June 30 – August 30. There is a special exhibition fee of $5 in addition to museum admission for all visitors ages 3 and up to view American Moderns and Life Through Time.
Above: Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986). 2 Yellow Leaves (Yellow Leaves), 1928. Oil on canvas, Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe, 87.136.6.