Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Media - 1999.17 - SAAM-1999.17_1 - 67483

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park, No. 6, 1968

Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum features forty-three key paintings and sculptures by thirty-one of the most celebrated artists who came to maturity in the 1950s. Through three broadly-conceived themes that span two decades of creative genius —"Significant Gestures," "Optics and Order" and "New Images of Man"—Modern Masters examines the complex and heterogeneous nature of American abstract art in the mid-twentieth century. Featured artists include Jim Dine, David Driskell, Sam Francis, Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Louise Nevelson, Anne Truitt and Esteban Vicente.


Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum tours to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum (November 29, 2008 – March 1, 2009), Westmoreland Museum of American Art (June 14, 2009 – September 6, 2009), Dayton Art Institute (July 23, 2010 – October 10, 2010), Telfair Museum of Art (November 5, 2010 – February 5, 2011), Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art (March 19, 2011 – June 19, 2011), and Reynolda House Museum of American Art (October 7, 2011 – December 31, 2011).

Exhibition Catalogue

Modern Masters: American Abstraction at Midcentury

The accompanying catalogue, titled Modern Masters: American Abstraction at Midcentury is co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and D Giles Limited (London), was written by Virginia M. Mecklenburg with contributions by Tiffany D. Farrell. The book features an essay and biographical information on the 31 artists whose work is included in the exhibition. It is available for purchase online.


The Smithsonian American Art Museum is grateful to our generous contributors for their support of Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund provided support for the publication. The C. F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum's traveling exhibition program Treasures to Go. Members of the Smithsonian Council for American Art contribute to the museum's national programs.