American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O'Keeffe to Rockwell
2/8/2015 - 5/17/2015
American art underwent a dramatic transformation between 1910 and 1960, as artists rejected or reformulated prevailing traditions in search of new ways to portray contemporary life. The United States was emerging on the international stage as an economic, industrial, and military power, yet also experienced two world wars and the Great Depression. Urbanization and new technologies fundamentally altered Americans’ daily lives, and an increasingly diverse population challenged existing social norms. American Moderns explores the ways American artists engaged an ever more modern society.

Challenging long-standing traditions and breaking free of established academies and practices, many American artists from 1910 to 1960 found the avant-garde art of Europe — especially Cubism — to be a catalyst for their own innovations. Others found inspiration in the distinctive character of American life.

Drawn from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-renowned collection, American Moderns explores this exciting and energetic period through 50 paintings and sculptures by artists including George Ault, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Loren Maciver, Elie Nadelman, Max Weber, and Isabel Lydia Whitney. No two artists illuminate the rich complexity of American art during this era, however, more than Georgia in a melting pot of bustling activity. O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell. O’Keeffe belonged to the circle of artists led by the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, whose gallery in New York City was among the first to expose American audiences to the leading European modernists. Later, O’Keeffe would move to New Mexico, where she brought her distinctive abstract vision to the landscapes of the Southwest. Rockwell, by contrast, lived in New England, where he worked as an illustrator producing welcoming images of small-town life for the covers of popular magazines. Seen together, these two artists frame the aspirations, accomplishments, and contradictions of these rich and challenging decades.

What's pictured: (left) Max Weber (American, born Russia, 1881-1961), Abraham Walkowitz, 1907, oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 20 1/4 in., Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Abraham Walkowitz, 44.65.

The exhibition’s themes illuminate this multiplicity of artistic objectives and interests. “Cubist Experiments” focuses on American manifestations of Cubism, which originated in Paris to become the dominant visual language of the early twentieth century. “The Still Life Revisited” explores the variety of ways artists reinvigorated this centuries-old genre, using arrangements of everyday objects to experiment with decorative styles, personal symbolism, and the properties of color, form and space. “Nature Essentialized” reaches into one of the deepest traditions of American art, locating identity and inspiration in the pristine beauty of the landscape, whether abstracted waves along the Atlantic shore, or a detail of two leaves in the golden hue of autumn.

“Modern Structures” and “Engaging Characters” look at how America was fundamentally transformed by urbanization and industrialization in the first decades of the twentieth century. As skyscrapers, subways, bridges and factories fueled the growth of cities, artists found new subjects and visual possibilities in the grid-like geometry and machine aesthetic of the modern world. A diverse urban population challenged social norms, and brought citizens together in a melting pot of bustling activity.

The twentieth century ushered in far-reaching social, technological, and cultural changes that affected every aspect of life in the United States. It was an equally groundbreaking period for American artists, who embraced modern styles and subjects, absorbed new inspirations, and re-shaped our vision and understanding of the world around us in ways that continue to reverberate close to a century later.

Hours, Tickets, & Tours
American Moderns is open during all regular Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm. Closed Monday and major holidays.

American Moderns is a ticketed exhibition:
General public adults: $10
(Thursday evening pricing, 4–8 pm: $5 for general public adults)
Youth ages 17 and younger: Free
College students with ID: Free
Joslyn Members: Free

All visitors, including members, must obtain a ticket for entrance to the exhibition (no reservations necessary).

Programs with visits to the exhibition will be priced accordingly for general public adults. Docent-guided tours of the exhibition are offered weekly. See the calendar for dates (ticket pricing applies).

Mobile American Moderns

Free Wi-Fi is available in all Joslyn galleries. Bring your web-enabled mobile device or borrow one of ours to access the exhibition mobile tour presented by Joslyn and OnCell. Call (402) 881-3601 to access the tour in English; (402) 972-4031 for the Spanish language tour. Tour access information also available on site and on the Museum's mobile tour page.

Exhibition-Related Events & Programs

Saturday, February 7; 10 am–4 pm
Private Preview Day for Members
Beginning in 2015, every ticketed special exhibition at Joslyn will open first and exclusively for members. The exhibition will open to the general public the following day. Members, show your membership card at the admissions desk for tickets to the exhibition on preview day (reservations not required during the day). Curator gallery talks will be offered at noon and 2 pm by Toby Jurovics, Joslyn's Chief Curator and Holland Curator of American Western Art.

Saturday, February 7; 4–6 pm
Lecture & Reception
Joslyn members are invited for a private lecture and reception celebrating American Moderns. At 4:15 pm, Toby Jurovics, Chief Curator and Holland Curator of American Western Art, will give an overview of the show in the Witherspoon Concert Hall. The presentation will be followed by gallery viewing, complimentary light hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. Invitations will be mailed to Museum members with reservation/attendance information. Not a member? Join now!

Saturday, February 7; 5:30–8 pm
Dine at Joslyn (SOLD OUT)
Enjoy a gourmet meal in Café Durham. Reservations are required; Café Durham's servery line will be closed this evening. Bon appétit!

Saturday, February 14; 8–11 pm
A Vintage Valentine
Celebrating the exhibition American Moderns, this special evening draws inspiration from the roaring 20s, the age of prohibition and big bands, to the Hollywood glitz and glam of the 1930s to 1940s, to rockabilly of the 50s. Come as you are or dress in vintage vogue then dance the night away! Follow the link above for details, pricing, and reservations (required for dinner, no reservations required for drink and dance).

Thursdays, February 26 & April 30 @ 6:30 pm (cash bar @ 5 pm)
Late 'til 8 Gallery Talks with Toby Jurovics, Chief Curator and Holland Curator of American Western Art. Tickets: $5 general public adults; free for Joslyn members, Creighton University students and faculty with ID, and all other college students with ID. 

Thursday, March 12 @ 6:30 pm (cash bar @ 5 pm)
O'Keeffe Scholar to Speak
Joslyn welcomes back Carolyn Kastner, Ph.D., Curator at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Kastner's lecture, "Georgia O'Keeffe and the Great American Thing." Program begins in the Abbott Lecture Hall and admission to the lecture is free. Tickets to the American Moderns exhibition: $5 general public adults; free for Joslyn members, Creighton University students and faculty with ID, and all other college students with ID.

Thursday, April 9 @ 6:30 pm (cash bar @ 5 pm)
The Graham and Sally Lusk Lecture with Eleanor Jones Harvey, Ph.D.
Joslyn Art Museum presents the inaugural Graham and Sally Lusk Lecture featuring Dr. Eleanor Jones Harvey, Ph.D., Senior Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Program begins in the Witherspoon Concert Hall and admission to the lecture is free. Tickets to the American Moderns exhibition: $5 general public adults; free for Joslyn members, Creighton University students and faculty with ID, and all other college students with ID.

Friday, May 1 @ 7:30 pm
Ballet Nebraska's Momentum
Ballet Nebraska partners with Joslyn Art Museum once again to present an original ballet inspired by American Moderns. Follow the link above for ticket details, including a Joslyn member discount offer and optional paid reception with the cast.

Sunday, May 10 @ 10 am (doors open at 9:45 am)
Rise & Shine Mother's Day Breakfast
Indulge on Mother's Day with breakfast in Joslyn's beautiful Storz Fountain Court. Follow the link above for details, pricing, and reservations (required). Prices include exhibition ticket to American Moderns.

Many regularly scheduled programs will be presented with a nod to American Moderns. Check these listings and follow the links for details:
  • Art Encounters (Thursday, February 19 @ 10:30 am features American Moderns). $5 for general public adults; free for Joslyn members and members of The Nebraska Medical Center's Health and Wellness Club.

  • Story Adventures (Tuesday, March 17 @ 10:30 am) This free gallery reading program features American Moderns. Guests must stop at the entrance desk for a ticket, which is complimentary for this program.

  • Stroller Tours (Wednesday, March 18 @ 9:15) This program for adults with small children requires advance registration and payment at the door: Free for Members and infants/toddlers; $10 General Public Adults on March 18 (all other Stroller Tour Sessions are $5 for General Public Adults); click the Stroller Tours link to register.

  • KickstART Saturday (Saturday, April 11; 10am–noon). Free events will entertain and engage families with hands-on activities, performances, and demonstrations that complement American Moderns. General public will enjoy $5 discounted tickets to the exhibition on this day; all KickstART Saturday activities are free.