American Art, 1900 to the Present
American artists working in the first decades of the twentieth century looked to many sources for inspiration—the city, science and technology, European art forms, etc.-- in order to explore concepts, emotions, and even the possibility of a universal visual language.
Artists of this time also were responding to changing perceptions of traditions, artistic practices, the figure, and the self. Works created in the first half of the twentieth century demonstrate the creative possibilities of early modernism, social realism, abstract expressionism, and geometric abstraction.
While traditional approaches to art making did not disappear, artists during the second half of the twentieth century began to explore new forms such as happenings, performance, earthworks, installation, video and film, processes that continue to influence and inspire artists today.
Artists more recently have questioned the concept of originality and the art object itself and have increasingly borrowed imagery from popular culture, mass media, and art history. Conflicting social, political, philosophical, and artistic ideas abound in contemporary art today. The resulting complexity may at times seem confusing, but it offers a richness and diversity never seen before.
Please note: Not all works of art or collections are on view at all times, particularly works from the Claribel and Etta Cone Collection and Lenoir C. Wright Collection. As we continue to digitize the nearly 6,000 objects in our collection, guests may view them online through our collection search.