From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art

June 17 to October 3, 2017

American art from the first half of the twentieth century is still relatively unknown in Europe. The three central themes of the exhibition – landscapes, portraits, and cityscapes – present a cross-section of American painting. The show will trace the beginnings of abstract painting, which also developed during this time. After 1945, this culminated in Abstract Expressionism, and New York City became the new center of the art world. Works from The Phillips Collection highlight all of these developments.

The exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art will provide a panorama of subjects and styles ranging from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism – taking visitors on a journey through landscape art, portrait painting, and cityscapes to Color Field Painting, with works along the way by George Inness (1825–1894), Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993), and more. Through his activity as a collector, Duncan Phillips (1886–1966), an art critic and patron of the arts, and founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., championed and supported America’s modern artists helped shape the canon of 20th century American art. Opening in 1921, The Phillips Collection predated the founding of the Museum of Modern Art (1929) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1931). Phillips’s view of art as a universal language that transcends national schools and eras endures to this day as an inspiration to others.

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.,
in cooperation with the Museum Barberini, Potsdam.

Exhibition view "From Hopper to Rothko. America's Road to Modern Art", Museum Barberini, Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini

Exhibition view "From Hopper to Rothko. America's Road to Modern Art", Museum Barberini, Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini

American art from the first half of the twentieth century is still relatively unknown in Europe. The three central themes of the exhibition – landscapes, portraits, and cityscapes – present a cross-section of American painting. The show will trace the beginnings of abstract painting, which also developed during this time. After 1945, this culminated in Abstract Expressionism, and New York City became the new center of the art world. Works from The Phillips Collection highlight all of these developments.

The exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art will provide a panorama of subjects and styles ranging from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism – taking visitors on a journey through landscape art, portrait painting, and cityscapes to Color Field Painting, with works along the way by George Inness (1825–1894), Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993), and more. Through his activity as a collector, Duncan Phillips (1886–1966), an art critic and patron of the arts, and founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., championed and supported America’s modern artists helped shape the canon of 20th century American art. Opening in 1921, The Phillips Collection predated the founding of the Museum of Modern Art (1929) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1931). Phillips’s view of art as a universal language that transcends national schools and eras endures to this day as an inspiration to others.

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.,
in cooperation with the Museum Barberini, Potsdam.

Exhibition view "From Hopper to Rothko. America's Road to Modern Art", Museum Barberini, Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini

Exhibition view "From Hopper to Rothko. America's Road to Modern Art", Museum Barberini, Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet

Claude Monet
Duncan Phillips (1886–1966) was a member of a wealthy Gilded Age family in the USA. He was only 32 years old in 1918 when he began his plans to open a museum in Washington D.C. It is thanks to his initiative that the first American museum of modern art was founded. He remained the director of the Phillips Collection until his death in 1966.
Duncan Phillips, Summer 1921

Duncan Phillips, Summer 1921

Duncan Phillips (1886–1966) was a member of a wealthy Gilded Age family in the USA. He was only 32 years old in 1918 when he began his plans to open a museum in Washington D.C. It is thanks to his initiative that the first American museum of modern art was founded. He remained the director of the Phillips Collection until his death in 1966.
About the artist

Born in 1840 in Paris, Claude Monet was introduced to painting outdoors while still a youth by Eugène Boudin, who was sixteen years his senior and well-known for his beach scenes. This became a central theme of Monet’s creative process. He explored the effect of light by repeatedly painting series of the same landscape at various times of day and during all seasons. He died in Giverny in 1926 – at the place where he had planted his magnificent garden full of flowers.

The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Founded in 1921 in Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection was the first museum of modern art in the United States. The museum’s holdings include 188 paintings by contemporary American artists. Phillips was an enthusiastic supporter of young American artists who had received little recognition up to that point in time.

Main gallery with a special exhibition featuring contemporary American and French painting with an Egyptian head from the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570-1293 BCE), 1927

Main gallery with a special exhibition featuring contemporary American and French painting with an Egyptian head from the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570-1293 BCE), 1927

Founded in 1921 in Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection was the first museum of modern art in the United States. The museum’s holdings include 188 paintings by contemporary American artists. Phillips was an enthusiastic supporter of young American artists who had received little recognition up to that point in time.

Main gallery with a special exhibition featuring contemporary American and French painting with an Egyptian head from the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570-1293 BCE), 1927

Main gallery with a special exhibition featuring contemporary American and French painting with an Egyptian head from the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570-1293 BCE), 1927

He purchased their works, wrote essays about their art, and dedicated exhibitions to them. His ability to discover artistic talent beyond the fashionable and the mainstream was extremely influential. Milton Avery, Arthur G. Dove, Kenneth Noland, Georgia O’Keeffe and John Sloan – today celebrated stars in American art history – are only a few of the artists whose works Phillips was the first to purchase for a museum collection. In addition, he was also interested in European art, collecting French Impressionist works among others. Today The Phillips Collection holds around 4,000 works, including famous paintings such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880/81).

In our first international cooperation, we are showing works from The Phillips Collection and presenting this pioneering museum.

Marjorie und Duncan Phillips in der Hauptgalerie, um 1922, Photo: Clara Sippre

Marjorie und Duncan Phillips in der Hauptgalerie, um 1922, Photo: Clara Sippre

He purchased their works, wrote essays about their art, and dedicated exhibitions to them. His ability to discover artistic talent beyond the fashionable and the mainstream was extremely influential. Milton Avery, Arthur G. Dove, Kenneth Noland, Georgia O’Keeffe and John Sloan – today celebrated stars in American art history – are only a few of the artists whose works Phillips was the first to purchase for a museum collection. In addition, he was also interested in European art, collecting French Impressionist works among others. Today The Phillips Collection holds around 4,000 works, including famous paintings such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880/81).

In our first international cooperation, we are showing works from The Phillips Collection and presenting this pioneering museum.

Marjorie und Duncan Phillips in der Hauptgalerie, um 1922, Photo: Clara Sippre

Marjorie und Duncan Phillips in der Hauptgalerie, um 1922, Photo: Clara Sippre

Then and now: In The Phillips Collection and the Museum Barberini
Annex installation with Henri Matisse's Studio, Quai St. Michel (1916) und Richard Diebenkorn's Interior with View of the Ocean (1957), 1986
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Exhibition view "From Hopper to Rothko: America's Road to Modern Art", Museum Barberini, Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini / VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn 2017
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Figuration: Reformulation of the Real
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Conference on the exhibition

The museum invited to its conference on November 21, 2016 in preparation for the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art (June 17 to October 3, 2017). Lectures and discussions focused on the development of American art from impressionism to abstract expressionism. The spotlight was on The Phillips Collection (Washington D.C.), one of the most important private collections in the Unites States. The collector Duncan Phillips introduced artists such as Edward Hopper (1882–1967) and Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) to a broader public.

Speakers were Susan Behrends Frank (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.), Alexia Poth (Bauhaus-Archive, Dessau), Susanne Scharf (Universität Frankfurt), Ortrud Westheider (Museum Barberini, Potsdam), and Sylvia Yount (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Download program (pdf)

Edward Hopper: Sunday, 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Edward Hopper: Sunday, 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

The museum invited to its conference on November 21, 2016 in preparation for the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art (June 17 to October 3, 2017). Lectures and discussions focused on the development of American art from impressionism to abstract expressionism. The spotlight was on The Phillips Collection (Washington D.C.), one of the most important private collections in the Unites States. The collector Duncan Phillips introduced artists such as Edward Hopper (1882–1967) and Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) to a broader public.

Speakers were Susan Behrends Frank (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.), Alexia Poth (Bauhaus-Archive, Dessau), Susanne Scharf (Universität Frankfurt), Ortrud Westheider (Museum Barberini, Potsdam), and Sylvia Yount (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Edward Hopper: Sunday, 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Edward Hopper: Sunday, 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Download program (pdf)

experts on video
Susan Behrends Frank, Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.
Susanne Scharf, Goethe university Frankfurt/Main
Corinna Thierolf, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Alexia Pooth, Foundation Bauhaus Dessau
Catalogue
On the occasion of the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art

The catalogue for the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art​ was published by Prestel Verlag and edited by Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp with essays by Susan Behrends Frank, Alexia Pooth, Susanne Scharf, Corinna Thierolf, Ortrud Westheider, and Sylvia Yount. They demonstrate that impressionism is no longer about narrating a story but about the act of seeing. Freed of historical and symbolic references, landscapes therefore became the central genre in impressionism.

24 x 30 cm, 248 pages, 200 illustrations

Price at the museum shop: € 29.95

Booktrade edition: € 39.95

order catalogue

On the occasion of the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art

The catalogue for the exhibition From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modern Art​ was published by Prestel Verlag and edited by Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp with essays by Susan Behrends Frank, Alexia Pooth, Susanne Scharf, Corinna Thierolf, Ortrud Westheider, and Sylvia Yount. They demonstrate that impressionism is no longer about narrating a story but about the act of seeing. Freed of historical and symbolic references, landscapes therefore became the central genre in impressionism.

24 x 30 cm, 248 pages, 200 illustrations

Price at the museum shop: € 29.95

Booktrade edition: € 39.95

order catalogue