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What Is Modernism?: Abstraction vs. Realism

Thurs, Jul 25 | 6:00–7:30



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Eldzier Cortor

In the 1950s and 60s, many prominent American painters turned away from realistic depictions of human bodies and recognizable spaces towards abstraction. At the same time, in many other parts of the world, realism was the preferred and even state-mandated form of artistic output.

How can we account for these differences in our understanding of the postwar moment? How do these works of art help us understand the postwar political landscape in the U.S. and abroad?

In the second session of this free three-session program, participants will learn about artistic movements like Abstract Expressionism, socialist realism, and Pop art.

“What is Modernism?” is a free, three-week class introducing participants of every experience level to the histories, stories, and ideas expressed in the Art Institute collection. This is the second of three sessions. 

about the facilitator

Kristen French is an assistant director in Gallery Activation. She facilitates learning, reflection, and critical engagement with art in the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago. Outside of work, she enjoys all things outdoors that the Midwest has to offer.


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