Modernism in American Art and American Modernist Artists


(above:  Georgia O'Keeffe, Lake George Reflection, c. 1921-22,  oil on canvas, 58 x 34 inches, Christie's. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Modernism in American Art and American Modernist Artists." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section.

After Resource Library articles and essays are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.


(above:  Maurice Prendergast, The Mall, Central Park, 1900/1903, watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 22 x 20 inches, National Gallery of Art (USA). Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:






From other web sites:

"American Modernists: Breaking the Mold," by Susan Saccoccia, from National Endowment for the Humanities. Accessed 5/18

American Moderns, 1910 - 1960: From O'Keeffe to Rockwell, an exhibit held October 12, 2013 - January 5, 2014 at the Delaware Art Museum. Includes press materials. Accessed August, 2015.

American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, an exhibit held October 2, 2010 ­ January 17, 2011 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Includes micro-site with audio tour. Accessed May, 2015

American Post-Impressionists: Maurice & Charles Prendergast is a 2018 exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art which says: "Travel in time to the early 20th century when Maurice and Charles Prendergast revolutionized American art. Inspired by European styles, the brothers challenged traditional artistic conventions, propelling the American Post-Impressionist movement and contributing to the evolution of American Modernism." Also see Resource Library essays for Charles Prendergast and Maurice Brazil Prendergast  Accessed 5/18

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is a 2014 exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum which says: "Archibald Motley includes forty-three works spanning each period of Motley's career, from 1919 to 1960. Motley's scenes of life in an African-American community, often in his native Chicago, depict a parallel existence of labor and leisure." Also see exhibit information from the Chicago Cultural Center and Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, held in 2014 at the Duke University Museum of Art, with information on national tour including biography, images and audio clips. Accessed 3/17

An Artist's Eye: A Journey through Modern and Contemporary Art with Sigmund Abeles, an exhibit held Jun 17, 2011 - Oct 23, 2011 at the Columbia Museum of Art. Includes "A Conversation with Sigmund Abeles," a 1:05:37 audio recording between Dr. Brad Collins, Chair of USC Department of Art and Sigmund Abeles, a representational artist who worked in New York during its highest involvement with Abstract Impressionism.

The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, an exhibit held April 3, 2015 - August 30, 2015 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Includes press coverage. Accessed May, 2015.

Auspicious Vision: Edward Wales Root and American Modernism, an exhibit held October 14, 2007 - February 24, 2008 at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. Accessed March, 2015.

Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work  is a 2018 exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center which says: "This revelatory new look at Marin's work affords a unique opportunity to see finished watercolors, etchings and oil paintings reunited with the sketches on which they were based for the first time outside the artist's studio." See the website for the exhibit and article at incollect. Accessed 2/18

B.J.O. Nordfeldt: American Internationalist is a 2022 exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum which says: "Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt (1878-1955) was a modernist of international reputation. With a renegade spirit that sought novel locations for new artistic inspiration, he lived in or near artist colonies in Provincetown in Massachusetts, Santa Fe in New Mexico, and New Hope in Pennsylvania. Weisman Art Museum, home to the largest collection of works by Nordfeldt, is pleased to present this exhibition..." Accessed 6/22

Charley Harper: Works from the Hausrath Family Collection is a 2019 exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art which says: "Harper's signature style, which he playfully branded "minimal realism," grew from his dissatisfaction with the mundane expectations of commercial illustration." Also see 7/30/19 article in Lafayette Flats. Accessed 11/19

David Bates, an exhibit held Feb 09, 2014 - May 11, 2014 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Accessed March, 2015.

Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence is a 2009 exhibit at the Clark (Sterling and Francine) Art Institute which says: "Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence explores the visual and thematic interests shared by these two pioneers of twentieth-century painting, examining Dove's role in O'Keeffe's early practice and O'Keeffe's subsequent impact on Dove's work." Accessed 10/18

An Ear for Music, an Eye for Art: The Ahmet Ertegün Collection was a 2013 exhibit at the Baker Museum which says: "This exhibition presents modernist works from one of the Museum's most important collections, amassed by the late Ahmet Ertegün, the Turkish American businessman best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records. Throughout his impressive career, Ertegün built an extraordinary collection of American Modernist art that reflects his inimitable approach to assembling subjects and themes." Accessed 1/17

Family Gifts: Works by Freeman Butts, an exhibit held September 04 - December 31, 2009 at the Missoula Art Museum. Includes audio clips by MAM Exhibitions Curator Stephen Glueckert. Accessed March, 2015.

"A Colorful Life: The Art of Ila McAfee (1897-1995)" by Robert Parsons, from Robert L. Parsons FIne Art. Accessed November 9, 2015.

Edward Hagedorn: Volcanoes, Riots, Wrecks, & Nudes was a 2016 exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art, which says: "Influenced by German Expressionism, European Modernism, and Surrealism, Hagedorn's style draws aesthetic parallels to the work of his contemporaries on the East coast, rather than those working in California who were influenced at the time by Impressionism, Cubism, and Fauvism." Accessed 11/16

Herman Maril: The Strong Forms of Our Experience is a 2017 exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center which says: "Gritty Baltimore streets, serene Cape Cod beaches, horses in Maryland fields -- all were parts of the world of Herman Maril (1908-1986). Nearly 90 works by the great Mid-Atlantic modernist are coming to Arkansas from Maryland." Also see the artist's website. Accessed 2/17

Howard Rackliffe is a 2017 exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art which says: "Comprising approximately 60 works, the exhibition will span the 1950s to the 1980s. Rather than following the development of Rackliffe's oeuvre chronologically, the exhibition will explore various bodies of work that define the artist's output, including: Early Works; New York City; Maine Landscapes, Still Lifes, and Self Portraits" Accessed 3/17

John Graham: Maverick Modernist is a 2017 exhibit at the Parrish Art Museum which says: "John Graham: Maverick Modernist is a comprehensive survey of significant scope and scholarship, exploring how the artist became an influential figure in the development of a distinctly American approach to art-making in the first half of the twentieth century, and in what ways Graham's own self-reinvention as an artist mirrors the resourcefulness and ambition of American artists defining a new direction."  Accessed 6/17

The Legend of Rex Slinkard, an exhibit held November 9, 2011 - February 26, 2012 at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Includes press release. Accessed August, 2015.

Let's Have a Ball! Wood Gaylor and the New York Art Scene, 1913-1936 is a 2020 exhibit at the Robert Hull Fleming Museum which says: "Gaylor was a member of an irreverent group called The Penguin, led by painter Walt Kuhn, which mounted elaborate costume balls and parties complete with comic performances that were the subjects of Gaylor's most extravagant paintings." Accessed 12/20

Light and Shadow: American Modernist Paintings and Drawings, an exhibit held April 2, 2011 - July 31, 2011 at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Includes essay. Accessed January, 2015.

Lloyd Ney: Local Color was held June 4, 2016 through September 11, 2016 at the James A. Michener Art Museum. Also see images here from Accessed August, 2016.

Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns & the West is a 2016-17 exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum, which says: "The exhibition will include 150 works of art and ephemera produced by the visual, literary, and performance artists who came to Taos at Mabel's behest. The works of Andrew Dasburg, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Ansel Adams, Agnes Pelton, and Georgia O'Keeffe will be displayed in conversation with the works of Pueblo and Hispano artists who inspired their modernist sensibilities." Accessed 11/17. Also see website for the exhibit by the Harwood Museum. Accessed 11/16.

Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman was a 2016 exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, which said: "The avant-garde sculptor Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) is widely recognized for his elegant, modernist works. Less familiar is the pioneering folk art collection he established with his wife, an impressive trove of some 15,000 objects that was purchased by the New-York Historical Society in 1937." Accessed 11/16. Also see "'The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman' Review: Shaping the Artist" by Lance Esplund 6/8/16 in WSJ. Accessed 11/16

Marsden Hartley: Adventurer in the Arts is a 2021 exhibit at the Bates College Museum of Art which says: "The exhibition, developed in collaboration with the Vilcek Foundation, brings together over 35 paintings and drawings spanning 36 years of the American Modernist artist's career and will feature all 22 Hartley works in the Vilcek Collection, including Schiff, 1915, a landmark painting created during Hartley's stay in Germany and which will be shown in the U.S. for the first time." Accessed 11/21

Meaning in Color/Expression in Line: Arman Manookian's Modernism, an exhibit held November 04, 2010 - April 24, 2011 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Accessed January, 2015.

Modernism by Teta Collins, from Accessed August, 2015.

"Modernism's subjects in the United States."Art Journal, Summer, 1996  by Michael Leja from LookSmart, Ltd.

"The Return of the Native" by Joseph Phelan in Artcyclopedia is an essay about the 2003 exhibit Marsden Hartley: American Modernist at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Accessed 11/16

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is a 2015-16 exhibit at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale which says: "From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, the pioneers of American television adopted modernism as a source of inspiration. Revolution of the Eye looks at how the dynamic new medium of television in its risk-taking and aesthetic experimentation paralleled and embraced cutting-edge art and design." Also see Jewish Museum coverage and Wall Street Journal article. Accessed 2/17

Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966 an exhibit held at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco June 22, 2013-September 29, 2013. Includes extensive information including five online videos. Accessed August, 2015.

Richard Diebenkorn: The Sketchbooks Revealed is a 2016 exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center / Stanford University which says: "Throughout his long career, Richard Diebenkorn (Stanford B.A. '49) always kept a sketchbook -- a portable studio -- to capture his ideas. The books contain 1,045 drawings that span the artist's career and represent the range of styles and subjects he explored -- from deeply personal sketches of his wife, Phyllis, to studies of the figure, to grand landscape studies, to the development and maturation of Diebenkorn's signature style, a rich blending of figuration and abstraction." Accessed 2/17

Rural Modern: American Art Beyond the City is a 2016 exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum which says: "Comprised of nearly 70 works mainly completed between the world wars, Rural Modern investigates the incursion and gradual acceptance of modernist tropes in the American provinces."  Accessed 8/18

Simpler, Brighter, Stronger: Southwestern Art and Early Modernism, 1910-1960 is a 2013-14 exhibit at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art which says: "A new exhibition of paintings from the collections of Diane and Sam Stewart and the Brigham Young University Museum of Art showcasing the crossroads of modernism and the American Southwest, Simpler, Brighter, Stronger features a selection of early twentieth-century paintings that represent the inspiration that artists in the region drew from early European modernists." Accessed 3/17

The Society for the Preservation of American Modernists website includes a list of American Modernists. Accessed August, 2015.

The Stieglitz Circle was a 2000-01 exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art which says: "The 2000-2001 Sheldon Statewide exhibition focuses on the works of some of the earliest Americans to embrace Modernism, many of whom were promoted by photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. Shaping the New York art world and contributing to the rise of avant-garde culture in the era before the Depression, Stieglitz is without a doubt one of the most important single figures in the development of Modernism in America." Viewers may download the exhibition brochure. Accessed 1/17

Sterling Strauser: A Modernist Revisited, an exhibit held 11/27/99 - 2/27/00 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes essay by Robert Metzger, Ph.D., Director, CEO, Chief Curator, Reading Public Museum. Accessed April, 2015.

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing was a 2016-7 exhibit at the National Gallery of Art whch says: "Stuart Davis: In Full Swing passes over the artist's earliest efforts to begin in 1921 with his breakthrough paintings of tobacco packages. Moving ahead through five decades to his final canvas, the exhibition often strays from chronology to explore Davis's habit of recycling earlier work for new compositions. With more than one hundred of his most important, visually complex compositions on view, the exhibition highlights Davis's ability to assimilate the imagery of popular culture, the aesthetics of advertising, the lessons of cubism, and the sounds and rhythms of jazz into works that hum with intelligence and energy." See a 30-minute video and hear the audio tour. Accessed 1/17

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing is a 2017 exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art which says: "This major exhibition focuses on three phases of Davis's work: from 1927 to 1937, during which he applied the forms of Cubism to still lifes and landscapes; 1938 to 1943, when his work increased in both size and abstraction; and from 1944 to his death in 1964, during which Davis invented a new abstract art language all his own." Also see the CBMAA blog entry  Accessed 11/17

Subjectivist Tendencies in Early Modernist American Art: The Case of Edwin Walter Dickinson by Mary Ellen Abell, from Accessed August, 2015.

Will Barnet and The Art Students League, an exhibit held October 5-31, 2010 at the Art Students League® of New York. Includes the exhibit catalogue, press coverage, video and more. Accessed May, 2015.

William H. Johnson: An American Modern was a 2012-13 exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art which said: "William Henry Johnson (1901­1970) is a pivotal figure in modern American art. A virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, he produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents, and genres. On view in its entirety for the first time, a seminal collection of 20 vernacular landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits covering key stages in Johnson's career will be presented in William H. Johnson: An American Modern." Accessed 10/16

William J. Gackens and Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Affinities and Distinctions is a 2018 exhibit at the NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale  which says: "The exhibition demonstrates Glackens' response to Renoir's Impressionistic work from 1860 to the mid-1880s, which was avidly purchased by a wide variety of American collectors."  Accessed 11/18

William J. Glackens: A Modernist in the Making is a 2015-18 exhibit at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, which says: "This exhibition demonstrates Glackens commitment to forging a uniquely American Modernism by including works from his little-known explorations in the 1910s of the abstract compositional components of non-Western art , created alongside Maurice (1858-1924) and Charles (1863-1948) Prendergast, as well as works from the 1920s and 1930s that display his fascination with abstraction and pattern in textiles and decoration." Accessed 11/17


(above:  William Glackens, Bathers At Play, Study #2, 1914, oil on canvas, 12.25 x 15.5 inches, Sotheby's. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Online video:

The WGBH/Boston Forum Network is an audio and video streaming web site dedicated to curating and serving live and on-demand lectures, including a number of videos on Art and Architecture. Partners include a number of museums, colleges, universities and other cultural organizations. See listings of related videos in this catalogue indexed by partner name. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston partnered with the WGBH Forum Network for Modern Art in America, (43 minutes) in which Heather Cotter, Museum of Fine Arts Gallery Lecturer, gives an overview of the roots of American modern art using examples from the Museum's collection. This talk in the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts investigates the foundations of modern art in America, focusing on works by Georgia O'Keefe, Arthur Dove, Charles Sheeler, and Stuart Davis. [September 28, 2003] Accessed May, 2015.


Online audio:

The Orange County Museum of Art enabled individuals to use iPods and other MP3 players to better appreciate its Villa America: American Moderns, 1900-1950 exhibit (June 4 - October 2, 2005). The OCMA website contained a 25-part audio tour of the exhibit which could be downloaded by individuals before they visited the exhibit. The commentary is accompanied by clips of music from the era of the artworks. The museum made iPods available onsite for the use of visitors. Villa America explores the evolution of American art through masterpieces of America's foremost artists of the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition begins with a look at key American modernists working in Europe and New York during the first quarter of the century. In these early years, artists such as Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Gerald Murphy and Georgia O'Keeffe, to name just a few, were reshaping American art. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]


(above: Rex Slinkard, Self-Portrait, c. 1910, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches,  Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Bequest of Carl Sprinchorn. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


DVD/VHS videos:

-- not researched

(above: Stuart Davis, Gloucester Landscape, 1919, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Books sampler:

Milton W. Brown, American Painting from the Armory Show to the Depression. Princeton University Press, 1955.

Wanda M. Corn, The Great American Thing: Modern Art and National Identity 1915-1935. University of California Press, 1999.

Abraham A. Davidson, Early American Modernist Painting, 1910-1935. Da Capo Press, 1994.

Patricia Hills, Modern Art in the USA: Issues and Controversies of the 20th Century. Prentice Hall, 2000.

Anne Middleton Wagner, Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O'Keeffe, University of California Press, 1996


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