Past Exhibitions

Monterey Modernism

April 6–June 17, 2012
MMA Pacific Street

Modernism was introduced to the American public in 1913 when the International Exposition of Modern Art (commonly known as the Armory Show) offered the first wide exposure to avant-garde European art. As a result, many American artists began to turn away from the light-infused style of Impressionism to the use of vibrant, even violent color and simplified form. Regional artists in Monterey such as Francis McComas and Gottardo Piazzoni were influenced by the atmospheric beauty of California’s untapped environment and their startling simplification of form and muted pallet, heralded abstraction and modernist concepts. The lack of detail, and later with the combination of expressive brushstrokes, gave way to progressive compositional structures where broad patches of color and simpler lines became the dominant subjects. Artists such as Armin Hansen, sisters, Margaret, Esther and Helen Bruton, John O’ Shea, Henrietta Shore, Emmy Lou Packard, and Pedro de Lemos continued to forge a distinctive, regional California Modernism and helped establish the Monterey Peninsula as an important American art center.

Image: Margaret Bruton, The Harmonica, c. 1930-5, oil on canvas, collection of Teresa and Eric Del Piero