The permanent collection at the grand Philadelphia Museum of Art contains more than 240,000 objects, among them an amazingly rich and historically important array of American painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, ceramics, textiles and more.
Now, more than 160 of those works — several of which are on display for the first time — make up the remarkable exhibition Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950, on view April 18 through September 3.
MODERN TIMES FAST FACTS
- Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950 runs from April 18 to September 3.
- This major exhibit includes more than 160 works of art, most drawn from the museum’s collection.
- Works are on display by artists including Alexander Calder, Wharton Esherick, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, Man Ray and Alfred Stieglitz.
- Access to this special exhibition is included with regular museum admission.
A thematic retrospective of early-20th-century American modern art, Modern Times looks at how artists represented and reacted to the rapidly changing world around them between 1910 and 1950 — an era that saw the arrival of the automobile and motion pictures as well as World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II.
Modern Times is one of several exhibitions that focuses on the strengths of the museum’s collection — rather than borrowing works from other institutions — while the attraction undergoes an expansion, per the Frank Gehry-designed Master Plan through 2020.
The Exhibition & What to Look For
The sweeping exhibition is the largest of its kind that the museum has mounted in nearly 75 years and includes not only paintings but also sculpture, photography, costumes, textiles, furniture, and even housewares, drawn almost entirely from the museum’s vast permanent collection, including works received in the late 1940s from Georgia O’Keeffe and the Stieglitz Collection.
Organized thematically rather than chronologically, gallery sections focus on such motifs as the power of color, the natural landscape, the urban landscape, figures and portraits, abstraction and still lifes.
Artwork is juxtaposed — a wall of paintings, a painting with a party dress, a photograph with a chair — to demonstrate the new directions and dynamic interconnected visual languages that emerged during this period.
According to Jessica Todd Smith, The Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art, and Manager, Center for American Art, who organized the exhibition, “This stylistic pluralism, the beautiful chaos of innovation, was a hallmark of the modern American movement.”
In addition to showing off the stylistic diversity that made the era so engaging, the exhibit teases out Philadelphia connections and casts light on lesser-known women, African Americans and other artists in the hopes of, as Smith says, “broadening the conversation about modern art in the U.S.”
Programming & Events
During this blockbuster special exhibition, there are many opportunities to take in the exhibition alongside an after-hours party, lecture or film.
Every Wednesday evening, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts after-hours programming for its weekly pay-what-you-wish night.
Every Friday night brings more after-hours fun to the museum, with decade-themed events scheduled to transport museumgoers to the 1910s with ragtime, the 1920s with jazz and more.
This summer, Art Splash events for kids and families return June 30-September 3
Check here for a complete schedule of programming and events.
Tickets, Deals & More
Admission to Modern Times is free with admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (65 and older), $14 for students and youth (13-18) and free for members and children 12 and under.
Tickets are available online and, note, Philadelphia Museum of Art tickets grant access for two consecutive days to the museum’s main building, the Perelman Building across the street, the nearby Rodin Museum, and historic house Cedar Grove in Fairmount Park.
Pay-what-you-wish admission runs on the first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday 5-8:45 p.m.
Make plans now to take in Modern Times.