Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection

October 29, 2015 — April 9, 2016

Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)
Media - 2001.38 - SAAM-2001.38_1 - 63291

Alex Katz's Black Scarf, 1995

American artists in the twentieth century were deeply influenced by European modernism. Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection features stellar paintings and sculpture by major American artists Alexander Calder, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Wayne Thiebaud and others alongside European giants such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. 

The exhibition examines what chief curator Virginia Mecklenburg describes as a river of intellectual and artistic commerce that flowed both ways between America and Europe.” Crosscurrents is organized by Mecklenburg and features several gifts to the museum as well as artworks that are rarely seen by the public.

Exhibition Catalogue

Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection

In eighty-eight striking paintings and sculptures, Crosscurrents captures modernism as it moved from early abstractions by O’Keeffe, to Picasso and Pollock in midcentury, to pop riffs on contemporary culture by Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Tom Wesselmann—all illustrating the complexity and energy of a distinctly American modernism.

Video

Date
  • Join us for a three-part program that explores the artists in Crosscurrents. Academic, writer, and cultural diplomat Annie Cohen-Solal discusses European and American modernism, the work of Niki de Saint Phalle, and the interactions among art, literature, and society. Chief curator Virginia Mecklenburg sits down with Sam Rose and Julie Walters to discuss their collection and how European and American modernists influenced each other's work. The evening concludes with art historian, food critic, and best-selling author, Gijs van Hensbergen discussing Pablo Picasso and the nine Picasso paintings in the exhibition.

    Date
  • Published on Jul 25, 2013

    Symposium: "American Art in a Global Context"
    Friday, September 29, 2006
    Session V: North American Crosscurrents

    Moderator: Henry Estrada, Smithsonian Latino Center 

    Presenters:
    Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Blanton Museum of Art, "America/Americas: Placing U.S. Art in a Hemispheric Context"
    Frances Pohl, Pomona College, "Revisiting the Relationship between Canadian and American Art and Culture"
    Keith Morrison, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, "From Jamaica to New York: The Artist as a Citizen of the World"

    This three-day symposium looked at American art in a global context—from circum-Atlantic migrations in the eighteenth century to European training and travel in the late nineteenth century; from the export of U.S. culture and media in the twentieth century to the impact of immigration and globalization on the nation's visual arts in the new millennium.

    Date
  • Art historians Barbara HaskellValerie Fletcher, and Randall Griffey discuss major American artists featured in the Crosscurrents exhibition and explore their immersion in modernism, including the influence of their European counterparts.

    Schedule:

    1-1:40 p.m. Randall Griffey, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses his research and new findings on Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe.

    1:50-2:30 p.m. Valerie Fletcher, Senior Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, explores the works of David Smith and Elie Nadelman.

    2:30-2:45 p.m. Break

    2:45-3:30 p.m. Barbara Haskell, Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, addresses the intersections of nature and culture and their impact on the works of Joseph Stella, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and Charles Burchfield.

    3:30-4:00 p.m. Question and Answer session moderated by Elizabeth Broun, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery.

    Online Gallery for Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection

    Looking back from our vantage point in the twenty-first century, the massive arc of the modern movement dominates the past century. It reshaped all aspects of life and art and permeated every field of endeavor. Modernism’s first expression was rejection—of realism, rationalism, classical physics, and other certainties. In their place, it ushered in subjective concepts and unmoored our visual and philosophical convictions. Artists, impatient to leave behind exhausted traditions, altered not just the “what” of art—its subjects and themes—but the “how.”

    The figure of Picasso stands astride the century like a modern colossus. His destruction of figurative traditions was total, and his reconstituted cubist world challenged subsequent artists to populate it with their own inventions. As the works in the Rose-Walters Collection reveal, artists in the avant-garde—Romare Bearden and Stuart Davis are just two—assembled figures and landscapes in a personal, idiosyncratic way, bypassing narration in favor of a powerful, more iconic approach. 

    The experience of two world wars; travel by car and plane; and movies, radio, and television that broadcast news and culture around the world brought a new internationalism. Ideas swirled around and circled back as they reached across time and national borders to explore parallel themes. The art and myths of ancient people inflected the work of Joan Miró and Marsden Hartley; nature was the starting point for Georgia O’Keeffe and David Hockney. Picasso and Alice Neel probed likeness and autobiography; Fernando Botero and Roy Lichtenstein make us chuckle in wry recognition. David Smith and Richard Diebenkorn, who explored the materiality of the tangible world, redefined relationships between man and the physical environment. What unites them is their ambition to reach some elemental idea that concentrates the mind on a numinous vision. 

    Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator
    Smithsonian American Art Museum

    Early Modernism

    Online Gallery for Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    Midcentury

    Online Gallery for Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    Pop and Later

    Online Gallery for Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    Credits

    Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Robert Castellini in honor of James Dicke, the Gene Davis Memorial Fund, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Tania and Tom Evans, Paula and Peter Lunder, Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, the James F. Petersen Charitable Fund in honor of Tania and Tom Evans, and Pam and Scott Ulm.