Cover image for Modern art despite modernism
Modern art despite modernism
Storr, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Museum of Modern Art : Distributed by H.N. Abrams, [2000]

Physical Description:
247 pages : chiefly illustrations (all color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Drawing Lesson I -- Foreword -- Preface & acknowledgments -- Modern art despite modernism. Pt. 1. Typologies & twists ; Heads ; Pt. 2. Backward march! ; Femmes fatales ; Pt. 3. Fences Down -- Plates. The School of Paris ; Surrealism ; Metaphysical painting & Valori plastici ; Neue Sachlichkeit & German figuration ; Neo-romanticism ; British figuration ; Latin American figuration ; Depression era realism & the American scene ; Postwar European figuration ; Postwar figuration in the Americas ; Post modernism ; Drawing Lession II -- Index of illustrations -- Credits.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6490 .S7825 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Throughout the 20th century, the evolution of mainstream modernism in the arts has been shadowed and complicated by alternative expressions, intended either to set back the clock or to redirect the stream of "progress". This book, published in conjunction with the second of three cycles of millennial exhibitions (MoMA2000) at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, explores the anti-modernist impulse as exhibited in painting and sculpture through the social, political, and cultural conflicts of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Curator Robert Storr reminds the reader of the strengths of some of this work -- by Otto Dix, Lucien Freud, Francesco Clemente, and even Pablo Picasso -- and of the enduring popularity of such artists as Pavel Tchelitchew, whose Hide and Seek, along with Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, are among the public's favorite pictures. Storr also discusses taste and vulgarity and their implications, both past and present, for institutions like The Museum of Modern Art that are thought of as canon-builders.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

If one word can characterize modern art, it is diversity. As art historians attempt to encapsulate the twentieth century's delirious creativity, they either celebrate variation itself, or home in on a specific striation in the spectrum. These two volumes, each tied to millennial exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), exemplify these two approaches. Galassi and his coauthors, Robert Storr and Anne Umland, all curators at MOMA, consider diverse works created in four watershed years. In succinct but effective commentary, they set the tone for each year, then create resonant illustrative juxtapositions. The edgy ambience of 1929 is expressed by contrasting the work of Mondrian and Walker Evans, Frank Lloyd Wright and Kurt Schwitters. Nineteen thirty-nine, at the verge of World War II, was a golden movie year, and Galassi and company place stills from The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Ninotchka beside paintings by Thomas Hart Benton, Picasso, and Yves Tanguy. As diverse images both familiar and little-known move forward in time, a curious thing happens: unforeseen connections and patterns emerge. Storr focuses on works that seem to defy the modernist imperative, figurative paintings and sculptures by artists who worked outside the clamoring and drama of the avant-garde. In the cogent style he's known and respected for, he dissects antimodernist art by a wide range of artists, including Balthus, de Chirico, Pavel Tchelitchew, Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn, Andrew Wyeth, and Lucian Freud, and ponders the dueling impulses, be they ideological, aesthetic, spiritual, or utterly instinctual, that they embody. In his effort to see this aspect of twentieth-century art in a new way, Storr challenges his readers' notion of modernism itself, which even he is forced to admit is a slippery concept at best. --Donna Seaman

Choice Review

A 1946 cartoon by Ad Reinhart (reproduced in this book) pictures all art of the modern era as a single tree rooted in the works of the great Postimpressionists and branching off in various directions from a sturdy trunk of modern masters. There is a crack in a major limb, which is rotting and weighed down by "Subject Matter," "Mexican Art Influence," "Business as Art Patron," as well as lesser burdens that threaten to topple it into a cornfield below. It is this imperiled and much maligned branch of modern art--the representational "anti-avant-garde" from surrealism, the Neue Sachlichkeit, and the Mexican Renaissance to American regionalism and postmodernism-- which is the subject of Modern Art despite Modernism, part of the exhibition series MoMA2000, featuring and reconsidering works from the museum's collections. MoMA Curator Storr's three essays with notes provide a nice balance of commentary on the beautifully reproduced works, shown together with strong arguments to suggest that both the modern "avant-garde" and the "anti-avant-garde" are deformed when the complexities of their relationships are ignored and that the modern period is less distinct from the postmodern when the pluralisms of both are acknowledged. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. W. B. Holmes; University of Rhode Island