Past Exhibitions

Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterpieces from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Exhibition Through April 25, 2004

Picasso to Pollock offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience 59 paintings and sculptures by the foremost artists of the 20th century. Among the exhibition's highlights are Pablo Picasso's Women of Algiers (1954), Henri Matisse's Woman with a Plumed Hat (1918), Salvador Dali's Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938), and Georgia O'Keeffe's Lawrence Tree (1929). Picasso to Pollock also presents fine examples of Surrealist art by Yves Tanguy, Giorgio De Chirico, and Rene Magritte. Works by Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, and Joan Miro show the range and diversity of European modern art. Also represented are major paintings by legendary artists of the New York School: Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko,who transformed American art at mid-century with Abstract Expressionism. The Orange County Museum of Art is the only West Coast venue for this stunning exhibition. The exhibition is organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. 

Picasso to Pollock explores the spirit of modernism and shows how artists, driven to search for the new, imaginatively responded to an age of astonishing advancement in science, politics, and society. With innovative works that launched an artistic revolution, these 20th-century masters investigated the relationship between the individual and the material and psychological aspects of modernity. Reacting against academic art training and the confines of middle-class conventions, they also adopted the artistic forms of non-Western cultures and pre-industrial folk. The most groundbreaking change in pictorial representation since the 15th century was the pioneering development of Cubism by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Between 1907 and 1914 they radically broke down pictorial space into compositions of fragmentary and shifting planes.

Influenced by the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, the Surrealist movement, founded in 1924, sought to find pathways to the unconscious. Surrealists Max Ernst and Joan Miro used chance procedures and automatic drawing, methods that supposedly bypassed reasoned thought, to provoke unconscious associations. Imagistic Surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte used academic illusionism to portray an irrational dreamworld. Many Surrealist artists went into exile in the United States during World War II, and some had a significant impact on postwar art in America. 

The Abstract Expressionists were all affected by Surrealist automatism. While they were concerned with the seemingly contradictory goals of radical individualism and universal subject matter, their work focused intensely on the processes of painting, as epitomized by Jackson Pollock's drip paintings From Picasso to Pollock, the geniuses of modern art saw the world differently. This exhibition presents an extraordinary opportunity to see exceptional examples of modern art.

>Exhibiton Catalogue

The exhibition was accompanied by a 144-page book, Surrealism and Modernism from the Collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, containing essays by Eric M. Zafran, exhibition organizer and curator of European painting and sculpture at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and Paul Paret, assistant professor, University of Utah.


Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), The Bather, 1922; oil on panel, 7 3/8 x 5 inches; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1931.198, 2003. Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


Exhibition Credits

The exhibition was organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.


Media Sponor: KUSC

Major Support was provided by Marsha and Darrel Anderson, Victoria and Gilbert E. LeVasseur, Jr., Twyla and Charles D. Martin, Pam and Jim Muzzy. Additional support provided by Ross and Phyllis Escalette, The Escalette Family Foundation, Advanced Medical Optics, Merrill Lynch, The Health Emporium Market and Grille, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.