Philbrook exhibit showcases rise of American Modernism
James D. Watts, Jr., Tulsa World

Start with the word “modern.”

“When it comes to art,” said Philbrook chief curator Catherine Whitney, “the ‘modern’ can be a little confusing. Does it refer to a specific time period? Does it refer to a distinct movement in the art world? Why are things that we might today think of as ‘old’ still called modern?”

Whitney said this while in the midst of what is probably her own best answers to those questions.

Whitney is the curator of Philbrook’s newest exhibit, the world premiere of “From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation,” which opened Sunday.

The exhibit is made up of 62 works by 17 artists, including some of the most important of the 20th century: Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Max Weber, Arthur Dove and Joseph Stella.

The paintings and sculptures, Whitney said, examine the development of modernism in America during the first half of the 20th century, as artists sought to create a uniquely and distinctively American form of avant-garde art.

This is the first time a major portion of the Vilcek Foundation’s collection of American modernist art has been put on display.

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