From Man Ray to O’Keeffe: American Modernism at the Norton

Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935), After All..., 1933. Oil and graphite on fiberboard. Bequest of R. H. Norton, 53.43

Held in conjunction with the exhibition At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism, this show will explore connections between the leading collections of American modernist art held by the Norton and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The core of the Norton’s holdings in this area is still the works acquired by museum founder Ralph Norton, who grew increasingly fascinated by modernism in the last years of his life. His bequest to his museum reflects his passion for work by painters such as Charles Demuth, John Marin, and Georgia O’Keeffe who were supported by New York photographer and dealer Alfred Stieglitz as well as American direct carvers like John Flannagan. Since Norton’s death in 1953, the museum has continued to make important acquisitions in this area, in recent years focused particularly on work by people of color and women such as Henry Bannarn, Helen Torr, and Beulah Ecton Woodard. As at the Whitney, such significant recent acquisitions help the Norton present a history of modernism that more accurately reflects the true diversity of American creativity in this period. Although Ralph Norton did not collect photography, the museum has also built significant holdings of American modernist photographs beginning with the major gift of the Baroness Jeane van Oppenheim in 1998. Like the paintings, sculpture, and works on paper in this exhibition, photographs by such practitioners as Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, and Edward Weston demonstrate how these artists’ interests in abstracting form and depicting the modern world distinguished this innovative era in American art.