(Smithsonian) New Exhibition Featuring Picasso, O’Keeffe, Hopper and Many Others Brings Modernism Into Focus

David Smith 1952 Agricola IV

David Smith. Agricola IV (1952)


My article “New Exhibition Featuring Picasso, O’Keeffe, Hopper and Many Others Brings Modernism Into Focus” appears in Smithsonian magazine. Here’s the lede:

All the remarks had been made, and the thank yous delivered at the recent opening reception for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new exhibition “Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection.” Then Rose and Walters indicated they had one final thing to announce: They were gifting David Smith’s 1952, Agricola IV to the museum.

Virginia Mecklenburg, the museum’s chief curator who had been seeking a key Smith work for the collection for 25 years, was speechless. “When they come up for sale, they’re priced way beyond the museum’s ability to acquire them,” she said of Smith’s works. The announcement further surprised her, since the collectors had just purchased the sculpture at auction last spring.

“They hadn’t even owned it maybe six months,” Mecklenburg said.

The museum’s first major Smith sculpture appears in the last gallery of “Crosscurrents,” an exhibition of 88 works by 33 artists on view through April 10, 2016. The show, which focuses on 20th-century paintings and sculptures, traces the inception and development of Modernism as part of an exchange of ideas between European and American artists.

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