The Image of Modernism: Work from a Private Collection

April 3–May 10, 2008

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present The Image of Modernism: Work from a Private Collection, which will open on April 3 and remain on view through May 10. The exhibition will feature over 20 photographs, paintings and works on paper (dating from 1892-1965) by renowned American artists such as Oscar Bluemner, Charles Burchfield, Imogen Cunningham, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Walker Evans, John Marin, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Edward Weston. A catalog with an essay by art historian Barbara Haskell will accompany the exhibition.

Originating in Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, modernism encompassed a group of cultural movements that sought to re-evaluate and transform traditional values and ideals. Precipitated by technological advancements and a new industrial age, proponents of the movement embraced a changing world and aspired to capture it in their work. American artists first saw and studied the work of Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Rodin – early advocates of this new vision – at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery and the 1913 Armory Exhibition in New York City. Appropriating an aesthetic vocabulary from their European counterparts, many American artists chose to describe New York, a city which represented the pinnacle of a modern age.

Rather than consider the histories of modern American painting and photography as disparate or fractured, the extraordinary work in this private collection demonstrates a unified commitment to glorifying a new epoch via progressive visual principles. Traditional subjects and genres – still life, landscape and narrative – were re-invigorated to serve a new vision. Seen alongside one another, this collection creates a lively dialogue that illuminates parallel formal and conceptual premises. The minimal curves of Cunningham’s "Magnolia Blossom" (1925) embody a kinetic energy equal to the chromatic explosion of Dove’s "Italy Goes to War" (1940). Evans’s "Brooklyn Bridge" (1929) and Sheeler’s "New England Irrelevancies" (1953) present two powerful versions of architectural metamorphosis as seen through the lens of abstraction.

Largely because of Stieglitz's efforts, the division between painting and photography dissolved. This collection underscores the synergy between artists working in various mediums and is an eloquent and seamless visual realization of modernist thought.