Loren MacIver. Skylight. 1948. Oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 48 1/8" (102 x 122.1 cm). James Thrall Soby Bequest
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 523 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

All made in the United States in 1948, a few years after the end of World War II, these four very different paintings make clear that any point in time is full of unlikely simultaneities. They challenge the retrospective coherence of art history, which often masks variety and contradiction.

Willem de Kooning would soon be a leading figure of Abstract Expressionism, while Andrew Wyeth perfected a hyperrealistic approach at odds with abstraction, which was then the dominant style. Loren MacIver observed everyday scenes and objects, abstracting them and infusing them with new light and color. And Jeanne Reynal created swirling mosaics that drew on historical influences from the Byzantine period to the present. Though these artists followed separate paths, they were often shown together in exhibitions of new paintings—and remind us that any given moment is a crossroads of connections and ideas.

Organized by Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

4 works online

Installation images

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