The Historical Society of Rockland County’s exhibit “American Modernism: 20th Century Influencers in Rockland” is now on display until Feburary 23rd at the Rockland Center for the Arts, 27 South Greenbush Road, in West Nyack, NY.
The exhibit features modernism presented a radical break with the rigid structures of the past, a search for new forms of expression that fostered a period of experimentation in the arts.
This exhibition of art by luminaries who lived in Rockland County from the 1910s through the 1960s explores preeminent artists from all disciplines (including many of RoCA’s founders) and how they brought Modernist thinking and influences to Rockland County — and American masterpieces to the larger world. From the artists and intellectuals of South Mountain Road to Modernist innovators such as the ceramicist Eva Zeisel and tge glass artist Maurice Heaton, Rockland County has long been home to cultural giants of world renown. Many of these artists were instrumental in forming the Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA), originally known as the Rockland Foundation in the 1940s. It is only fitting to celebrate these artists at Rockland Center for the Arts — a dynamic institution that many of them collectively created.
The local Rockland landscape influenced many residents over the course of the 20th century and, in turn, the artists and intellectuals who found inspiration here influenced one another. Notable residents include: art critic and landscape artist Mary Mowbray-Clarke. Mary, along with her husband, John F. Mowbray-Clarke, and the painter (and fellow Rockland resident) Arthur B. Davies, were co-founders of the 1913 Armory Show that introduced Modernism to America; sculptor Hugo Robus whose sculptural works embodied Futurist aesthetics; ceramicist, painter, and self-taught architect, Henry Varnum Poor, who designed “Crow House” and other homes for other artists on South Mountain Road in New City and has works in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Ruth Reeves was a Cubist-influenced American textile artist of the first half of the 20th Century whose best-known works are the carpeting and wallcoverings for Radio City Music Hall; newly rediscovered artist, Sari Dienes, who used experimental processes to create abstract transfer drawings of highly-recognizable NYC streets; the highly-honored and respected painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was a founding member of the New York School of abstract expressionists, and drew inspiration from existentialist philosophy but over time his works took on a more mystical quality; innovative glass artist Maurice Heaton, known for inventing a process for firing and shaping his glassware which started the ball rolling for the studio glass movement in the 1960’s.
Curated by Daly Flanagan of RoCA, “American Modernism” is presented in partnership with the Historical Society of Rockland County and builds on the HSRC’s award-winning 2019 exhibitions “Influencers: Art and History on South Mountain Road” and “Crow House: Handmade by Henry Varnum Poor.” Auxiliary exhibition programs include.
The artists who works are part of the exhibition include: Edith Varian Cockroft; Karen Karnes; Hugo Robus; Joel Corcos Levy; Morris Kantor; Gilbert Rose; Arthur B. Davies; Mary Mowbray-Clarke; Martha Ryther; Sari Dienes; Henry Varnum Poor; Vaclav Vytacil; Carroll French; Richard Pousette-Dart; Eva Zeisel; Maurice Heaton; and Ruth Reeves.
The exhibit is on display 10 am to 4 pm, weekdays; 1 to 4 pm, weekends; closed holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available on the Historical Society of Rockland County website.
Painting: Vaclav Vytlacil courtesy JoAnn Zucker.