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The Making of Americans

MAR 09, 2011 | 10:00 AM

Photo: Anonymous artist, “New American Painting” catalogue cover, German version (2011). Collection Museum of American Art, Berlin.



365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 11102


1201: Elebash Recital Hall


March 09, 2011: 10:00 AM






The James Gallery


The Making of Americans at The James Gallery takes an innovative approach to the modern narrative of art history, particularly in the controversial period directly following World War II. The presentation at the James includes a visual investigation of the 1959 exhibition New American Painting, which toured to eight cities in Europe and was curated by Dorothy Miller, Alfred Barr's assistant at the Museum of Modern Art. As taken from the exhibition catalogue, paintings from the exhibition are recreated including work by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. Undertaken in collaboration with the Museum of American Art, Berlin, the exhibition at the James will be the first presentation of this work in New York. The Museum of American Art, Berlin has collaborated previously with Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands; Museo Rafael Tamayo in Mexico City; and at the 2009 Istanbul Biennial. In order to contextualize and investigate the significance of Miller's historic exhibition in shaping the new identity of American art at the time, the exhibition at the James will also explore important precursors: Alfred Barr's original layout of the Museum of Modern Art, the Armory Show, Catherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp's Societe Anonyme, and Gertrude Stein's Salon de Fleurus, a collection considered to be the prototype of modern American collections of European art. A mixture of paintings and artifacts, the overall exhibition will anchor its historical inquiry, asking how postwar American art was understood when it was contemporary, and finally, what were the motivations -- artistic, cultural, and political -- and how they differ from the narrative that has been constructed since then?