Selections from the Museum's Collection: Modern and Contemporary Art is part of a series highlighting the Museum’s exceptional holdings and showcasing works new to Houston audiences. This installation comprises major paintings and sculptures that span the early 20th century to the present. The first gallery opens with the art of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, then moves to the Cubist avant-garde that flowered in France, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Also featured are works by artists who pushed the limits of Abstraction, including Constantin Brancusi, Piet Mondrian, and Gerrit Rietveld.
The second gallery is devoted to Surrealist masters working between the World Wars, such as Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Yves Tanguy. Postwar Abstraction is introduced with works by Anthony Caro, Lucio Fontana, Ellsworth Kelly, and others. New directions in Contemporary art are represented by Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, and Robert Rauschenberg.
Among the recent acquisitions on view are Julie Mehretu's Mogamma, A Painting in Four Parts: Part 4, a monumental canvas that addresses the aspirations and chaos of the Arab Spring; Ed Ruscha’s Mysteries, a text-based painting that captures the melancholy spirit of film noir and the California landscape at twilight; and Simon Starling’s Transit Stones, which were inspired by the 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus across the Sun.
Complementing the works from the Museum's collection are important loans, which include Matisse’s mural-scaled Le chant (The Song), commissioned by oil heir Nelson A. Rockefeller in 1938; and major paintings by Salvador Dalí, Kees van Dongen, and Picasso.