Terra Collection Initiative: America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper

America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper looks at a current in interwar America that is relatively unknown in Europe. The exhibition focuses on artists who grappled with the experience of modern America by eliminating people from their pictures, emphasizing objectivity, and inventing a cool, controlled aesthetic. It features iconic works of American art produced during the roaring 1920s and Depression-era 1930s. Many of the paintings travel to the UK for the very first time. +

Reflecting a certain ambivalence towards modernity, artists interrogated the place of humans in an increasingly mechanized world.  From the abstractions of Edward Steichen, Georgia O’Keeffe and John Covert to the lonely vistas of Edward Hopper and highly structured, geometric paintings of Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, the exhibition examines how technological innovations and modernist art theories inspired a generation of Americans. It is a re-examination of ‘precisionism’ and includes many artists not usually associated with the movement.

America’s Cool Modernism is co-organized by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology at the University of Oxford. It includes 90 paintings, prints and photographs, including 27 works from the Terra Foundation and 18 from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is part of a multi-year partnership with the University of Oxford that includes Terra Foundation Visiting Professorships in the History of Art (2016–2021) and an extended loan of three Terra Foundation paintings to the Ashmolean (2016–2018).

Co-organized by the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford and the Terra Foundation for American Art


Dates & Venues

March 23, 2018–July 22, 2018
Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology (Oxford, United Kingdom)

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection

The exhibition of paintings, prints, and photographs features 27 works from the Terra Foundation Collection including:


Katherine M. Bourguignon, Lauren Kroiz and Leo G. Mazow. America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper, Oxford, United Kingdom: Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology–University of Oxford, 2018.

Related Content

Press release: Iconic Paintings Leave North America for the first time. America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper. Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, Oxford, United Kingdom. December 1, 2017.

Public programs

Press reviews

Exhibition preview: James Pickford, “O’Keeffe and Hopper among artists at Ashmolean next year,” Financial Times, December 1, 2017

Exhibition preview: Peter Aspden, “America’s Century of Cool,” Financial Times, February 17, 2018

Exhibition preview: “America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper,” Apollo, March 15, 2018

Exhibition preview: “A defining moment in American Modernism,” Art Quarterly, Spring 2018

Exhibition review: Jonathan Jones, “America’s Cool Modernism review—soulful struggles against a skyscraping new world,” The Guardian, March 22, 2018

Exhibition review: Richard Lofthouse, “America comes to the Ashmolean,” Oxford Today, March 22, 2018

Exhibition review: Will Gompertz, “America’s Cool Modernism at the Ashmolean,” BBC News, March 24, 2018

Exhibition review: Alastair Smart, “Holding up a mirror to America’s Machine Age,” The Telegraph, March 26, 2018

Exhibition review: “America’s Cool Modernism,” BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review, March 24, 2018 (min. 33–41)

Exhibition review: Alastair Sooke, “America’s Cool Modernism, Ashmolean, review—timid, detached and devoid of human warmth,” The Telegraph, March 27, 2018

Exhibition review: Marina Vaizey, “America’s Cool Modernism, Ashmolean Museum review—faces of the new city,” The Arts Desk, March 29, 2018

Exhibition review: “American Cool Modernism opens at he Ashmolean in Oxford to global acclaim,” Oxford Mail, March 29, 2018

Exhibition review: Laura Cumming, “America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper review—a whole new story,” The Guardian, April 1, 2018

Exhibition review: David Bennun, “How America’s modernists played it cool. Exhibition in Oxford casts modernism in a new light,” The Economist, April 5, 2018

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