Modern Art

Select Works From the Center’s Permanent Collection

October 1 – January 15

Founders Gallery | 600 E. Washington Street

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday | 10-4 + 2nd Saturdays

Featured Image: Walter Stein | Stein 1964

Modern art is represented in so many different ways.  This variety is significant – it reflects a giant cultural shift.  Modernism dates between 1880 and 1970, setting its beginning at the Industrial Revolution and developments in manufacturing, transportation, science, technology, and social-economic life.  Before the 19th century, artists had less control over what they created.  They were seen mainly as craftsmen, commissioned to create specific pieces for wealthy buyers and churches.  During the 19th century, many artists began making work about their personal experiences and observations.

Artists living in the modernizing world began depicting daily life in new ways. They sought to capture all of life, including the emotional and psychological effects of navigating a world that was changing quickly. This led to experimentation. We see this through expressive brushstrokes, non-traditional colors, and new approaches to portraiture and self-portraits. The development of psychology led artists deeper into this exploration with dreams, symbolism, and subconscious images. New forms of transportation and the invention of paint tubes enabled artists to travel and paint outdoors. Landscape paintings began to break tradition as well, depicting settings as a respite from the city, using expressive techniques and unique color pallets. 

As cities developed, so did a new scene of entertainment, including cabarets where the public could eat, drink, and see live shows within an energetic social scene. Artists and writers gathered in cabarets and began creating custom posters, leading to the beginning of graphic design and advertising. Many artists turned to popular culture and their own experiences as subject matter. While many of these themes continue today, modern art  preserves a moment in time filled with new beginnings.