The Wichita Art Museum opened its fall exhibition, American Moderns 1910 – 1960: From Georgia O’Keeffe to Norman Rockwell. The show features 57 artworks from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, a museum with a renowned American Art collection. This traveling exhibition summarizes Modernism in the United States by laying out thematic contexts for a variety of painting styles and subject matter.
Throughout this tumultuous time period that includes World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, artists in this country sought an “American” art identity amidst rapid changes in cities, technology, and society.
In the art world, avant garde abstraction from Europe was at the forefront and is seen as an influence in this exhibition. The tightly-rendered styles of the Academy were re-tooled or rejected outright. And folk art sought continuities to the past in hopes to find stability among the cultural chaos.
Works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur G. Dove, Stuart Davis, Grandma Moses, and Norman Rockwell – to name a few – are an absolute joy to see in person. But there is something more happening.
The Wichita Art Museum has re-installed all of its galleries to compliment and connect with American Moderns. Rich dialogs can be traced throughout the museum. Look for Georgia O’Keeffe in WAM’s Steuben glass collection and Arthur G. Dove’s abstract prints in Hold the Moment downstairs. Meanwhile, the presentation of American salon works in the rotunda gallery shows the art world being left behind as Modernism takes over.
The whole museum is in conversation with itself - which is something rare to enjoy.