The Norton Museum of Art will present From Man Ray to O’Keeffe: American Modernism at the Norton (March 18 – July 16, 2023), a recontextualization of the Norton Museum of Art’s American modernist art collection, alongside At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism (March 18 – August 27, 2023), which comes to the Norton from the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The two companion exhibitions will explore connections between the leading collections of American modernist art held by the Norton and the Whitney, looking at the ways in which each respective institution has grown their collection to more accurately reflect art of the early twentieth century.

Also on view this spring, New York Vanguard: Promised Gifts from Stephen and Madeline Anbinder (February 18 – June 11, 2023) explores mid-twentieth century American art, particularly Abstract Expressionism in postwar New York.

Together, the three presentations provide an expanded history of American modernism that spans a 60-year period and showcases a broad roster of artists.

Modernism has always been a significant focus for the Norton. Drawing from the Norton’s extensive holdings of American art alongside work from the Whitney, we can present a fuller, richer history of the movement.

Our founder, Ralph Norton, became deeply fascinated by modernism in the final years of his life, gifting era-defining works to the Museum. In the subsequent decades, we have taken up the mantle of ensuring our collection most accurately embodies the spirit and diversity of American creativity at this time, as reflected by the works on view in From Man Ray to O’Keeffe.

(Ghislain d’Humieres, Kenneth C. Griffin Director and CEO)

From Man Ray to O’Keeffe and At the Dawn of a New Age will demonstrate the myriad ways in which artists employed abstracted form as a means to more fully encapsulate modern life between 1900 and 1930. This time period was characterized by change, including a new era for manufacturing, communication, and transportation, while progressive movements such as the fight for women’s suffrage signaled greater cultural shifts. Against this backdrop, many American artists adopted the new and experimental over the traditional and fixed by rejecting realism in favor of art that gave precedence to emotional experience and harmonious design.

Including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and photography, From Man Ray to O’Keeffe will illustrate this important moment in art history through a presentation of Norton collection highlights, such as paintings by leading modernists such as Charles Demuth, John Marin, and Georgia O’Keeffe acquired by museum founder Ralph Norton and photographs by artists including Imogen Cunningham, May Ray, and Edward Weston that entered the collection later.

The exhibition will also highlight important acquisitions made by the museum in recent decades of work by women and artists of color such as Henry Bannarn, Helen Torr, and Beulah Ecton Woodard, which enable the museum to more accurately represent the history of this innovative era in American art.

On view simultaneously, At the Dawn of a New Age further explores the myriad ways artists employed abstract styles to convey their experiences of modern life through a presentation of works drawn from the holdings of the Whitney Museum. The exhibition brings together works produced between 1900 and 1930 by both well known American modernists like Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, and Man Ray, and their less familiar but equally groundbreaking peers, among them Patrick Henry Bruce, Chiura Obata, Agnes Pelton, and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet.

Moving into the latter half of the twentieth century, New York Vanguard celebrates the major group of mid-20th century paintings and works on paper that are promised to the Norton by Stephen and Madeline Anbinder. Following their gift of the Museum’s first work by Ad Reinhardt in 2018, the Anbinders have now promised an additional ten pictures to the Norton, including paintings by the leading Abstract Expressionists Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, and Robert Motherwell, as well as the Norton’s first works by Giorgio Cavallon, Elaine de Kooning, Vivian Springford, and Esteban Vicente. All ten of the artists represented in the show worked in New York just as the center of the art world shifted from Paris to that city following World War II, and all wrestled with the question of how to make art in a culture that had witnessed the war’s unprecedented destruction.

From Man Ray to O'Keeffe: American Modernism at the Norton is organized by the Norton Museum of Art. Support for this exhibition was provided by the Diane Belfer Endowment for Sculpture.