THE Magazine Releases List of Best Books in 2013
Diane Armitage, THE Magazine
The heart of this splendid book Masterpieces of American Modernism From the Vilcek Collection (Merrell, $85) is embedded in the art done in America in the first four decades of the twentieth century. There is some later work represented in the Vilcek Collection but the sum and substance of it was culled from the first waves of modern art done by iconic practitioners such as Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O'Keeffe. A fascinating aspect of the art that Jan and Marica Vilcek acquired is that they were inspired to begin collecting by repeated visits to Santa Fe and becoming exposed to Modernism, whether the work had a connection to New Mexico or not. Although only twenty artists are represented in this beautifully designed book, some of them are extensively covered, like Hartley and Davis; it would be a work by the latter, acquired in Santa Fe, which would constitute the beginning of the Vilcek's commitment to American Modernism. The book also includes a brilliant in-depth essay by William Agee, "Perspectives on Modern Art in America," that provides a thoughtful analysis of the evolution of Modernism and its impact on twentieth-century art.