The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York

This groundbreaking exhibition was key to establishing the pedigree for modern art proposed by Museum of Modern Art Founding Director Alfred H. Barr, Jr.—a narrative that continues to shape the Museum’s presentation of modernism to this day. In the introduction to the catalogue, Barr declared that the day’s most adventurous artists “had grown bored with painting facts. By a common and powerful impulse they were driven to abandon the imitation of natural appearance.” To demonstrate the breadth of this modernist impulse toward abstraction, Barr assembled a wide-ranging exhibition of nearly 400 works of painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, architecture, furniture, theater design, and typography. He also drew up a now-famous diagram of the origins and influences of modern art that was reproduced on the catalogue’s dust jacket.

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