Watch behind-the-scenes of Modern Masters installation (available October 7).
What is modern? What is contemporary? Join #theconversation
Watch Mad Men talk about modern art on YouTube
Smithsonian American Art Museum's Flickr site
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CVNC (December 1, 2011)
Winston-Salem Journal (November 28, 2011)
Fox8 WGHP (October 7, 2011)
Winston-Salem Journal (October 2, 2011)
Winston-Salem Monthly (October 2011)
YES! Weekly (September 28, 2011)
Charleston Post & Courier (August 7, 2011)
Winston-Salem Journal (July 28, 2011)
Modern Masters at Reynolda House
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Opening Weekend October 7-9
Includes Looking Aloud Gallery Discoveries all day on Friday
and a concert and lecture on Sunday, October 9.
Modern Thursdays October 13-November 3
Designed for the after-hours crowd, these evening hours will feature unique programs,
art projects, food, and modern libations. Supported by
Private Client Group
Curator's Talk November 15
Modern Masters curator Virginia Mecklenburg talks about the creation of the exhibition.
This event is the launch party for Six Days in November. Supported by Mary Louise and John Burress
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Top Ten Conversation Starters
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- Modern Masters is North Carolina's first exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in nearly ten years.
The last one? The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum on view at Charlotte's Mint Museum of Art, in spring 2002.
- Modern Masters has ties to North Carolina.
Josef Albers (Homage to the Square-Insert) was a teacher at the legendary Black Mountain College in Western North Carolina. Curators at New York's Museum of Modern Art personally paid passage for Albers and his wife to move from Germany's Bauhaus, when the Nazis closed the school in 1933. Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte in 1911 and the centennial of his birth is the focus a yearlong celebration this year in his native city.
- Modern Masters took Reynolda House three months to prepare and install.
Reynolda House re-creates its gallery with each exhibition. Wall construction and painting for Modern Masters began in July. Final touches are planned up until moments before the opening. This exhibition was particularly challenging due to the number of works and their size. Which are the largest? Jim Dine's The Valiant Red Car, 4 ½' x 11'; Joan Mitchell's My Landscape II, 8 ½' x 6'; and Larry Rivers's The Athlete's Dream, 7' x 10'.
- Modern Masters works aren't necessarily meant to be figured out.
They're meant to be experienced. The artists of modern and abstract art were expressing their souls; the subject of these works of art is not the object you see, but how you respond to it. Be open to how you feel in the gallery.
- Modern Masters works couldn't have been painted by a kindergartener. Or an elephant.
If you have friends who say their child could paint one of these works, consider this: a recent study in the journal Psychological Science showed that the average person does realize and identify the skill behind abstract and modern art. When shown works of art by a professional artist, including many featured in Modern Masters, alongside paintings by children and animals, study participants overwhelmingly preferred the professional paintings. Modern Masters encourages you to see the mind behind the art.
- Modern Masters works are complex and calculated.
Josef Albers started all of his "Homage to the Square" panels with a mathematical formula, and on the back of Homage to the Square-Insert listed the pigments and varnishes he used along with the names of the companies who manufactured them. Does Ad Reinhardt's Abstract Painting No. 4 look like a solid black square? Look closely; you'll be able to see squares of purples and blues in the painting.
- Modern Masters represents the time period when the influential art critic emerged.
Critic Harold Rosenberg said this new painting eliminated distinctions between art and life and liberated art from political, aesthetic, and moral values. Rosenberg and critics like him helped popularize the new forms of modern and abstract art emerging in the postwar years and helped the country learn how to define and distinguish what was good art. Their increasing influence and visibility ensured that Americans were exposed to postwar abstraction.
- Modern Masters artists changed the way the world viewed American art.
In 1962, the vice president of the Guggenheim Museum said that art created after the war marked the first original direction in the history of American art. American artists Sam Francis, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, and others enjoyed international acclaim through traveling exhibitions throughout Europe organized by New York museums.
- Modern Masters artists included many veterans of WWII.
Nine of the artists in the exhibition served in WWII, and their experiences during the war were in part responsible for leading them to create a new visual language. In fact, if it were not for his experience in the war, Sam Francis might not have become an artist at all. Francis was severely injured in a plane crash and was restricted to hospital beds for three years. Given a set of watercolors to allay the boredom of confinement, he began painting what he saw: "the play of light on the ceiling, the dawn sky and sunset effect over the Pacific." He eventually went on to earn degrees in studio art and in 1956 was recognized by Time magazine as "the hottest American painter in Paris."
- Modern Masters artists were activists who helped advance postwar abstraction.
Ad Reinhardt, Alfred Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, and others wrote a letter of protest when jurors unsympathetic to abstract art were selected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to judge a national competitive exhibition in 1950. The letter made national news, landing the group on the front page of The New York Times and the moniker "the irascible eighteen." Coverage of the exhibition in Life magazine included a photograph of the protesting artists. Postwar artists were experimenting with art, exploring the very nature of art, and challenging accepted norms.
The William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund, and the C.F. Foundation in Atlanta, and members of the Smithsonian Council for American Art have generously contributed to Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Reynolda House received support for this exhibition from Lead Sponsor Hillsdale Fund, Inc.; Contributing Sponsors Hawthorn PNC Family Wealth, Mia Celano and Skip Dunn, and Flow Companies, Inc.; and Exhibition Partners Harriet and Elms Allen, Cathleen and Ray McKinney, and Debbie and Mike Rubin. A portion of this exhibition is funded by the Charles H. Babcock, Jr. Community and Arts Initiative Endowment and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.back to top