Modernism and Abstraction: Treasures from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art
The Worcester Art Museum has a long tradition of exhibiting European and American modernism. Indeed, in the 1920s and 1930s, the Museum hosted a number of cutting edge exhibitions.
In 1921, for example, the Worcester Art Museum became the first museum to display paintings by the members of the Société Anonyme, an international organization of artists that was founded just one year earlier by Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp for the purpose of advancing the newest trends in modern art. Both Dreier and Duchamp had exhibited at the landmark Armory Show in 1913 and had a broad network of contacts in the international art world. Dreier and Duchamp believed that the work of these artists announced the coming of a new era, and their mission related to a broad sense of progress in civilization.
In 1936, Worcester exhibited Art of the Machine Age, which demonstrated the favorable influence of modernism upon contemporary industrial design. As the Museum's News Bulletin and Calendar explained: Only objects which indicate the implications of mass production for simplicity and beauty of form and texture will be shown. The functional beauty of machine-made articles will be stressed in opposition to the taste for extraneous decoration and superficial ornament which still persists among the devotees of the handicrafts.
Selected Modernism Exhibitions at the Worcester Art Museum, 1920s-1930s.
Further reading on American Modernism.