From New York to New Mexico Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection kicked off the second leg of its journey at Phoenix Art Museum with a members’ opening on June 4. Approximately 250 guests enjoyed the exhibition, comprising over 65 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from the Vilcek Foundation’s American Modernism collection.
Originally curated by the Philbrook Museum of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the traveling exhibition explores the emergence of America’s first homegrown avant-garde movement through four themes: the Cubist Impulse, which examines the American interpretation of cubism; Nature’s Great Unfolding, which focuses mostly on artists of the Stieglitz Circle and their interest in the natural world; Man Made, which connects the influence of urban and rural architecture to the modernist understanding of form and structure; and Our Western Roots, which explores the American Southwest as an inspiration and spiritual oasis for many East Coast artists.
To complement the exhibition, the Phoenix Art Museum will be showing 33 works from its own collection, including two Southwestern landscapes by Willard Nash and Raymond Jonson. The landscapes will round out the views from the Vilcek Collection on display in Our Western Roots. Nash’s “Untitled (Santa Fe Landscape),” c. 1925, uses blocks of color and geometric shapes to depict a modernist landscape of New Mexico. Nash was heavily influenced by many of the painters who are featured in the Vilcek Collection; in particular, Andrew Dasburg. Jonson’s “Cañon de Chelly,” 1928 and 1972, places the viewer on the floor of the Canyon, located in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, in the midst of a rainstorm. The walls of the Canyon rise around the viewer, the purples and reds calling to mind the palette of Marsden Hartley’s “New Mexico Recollections.” All of the pieces in the exhibition are also accompanied, for the first time, by Spanish translations of the wall texts.
The exhibition opened to the public on June 7, and will remain on view until September 7. Afterwards, From New York to New Mexico will head to its third and final installation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.