Terra Collection Initiative: Pathways to Modernism: American Art, 1865–1945

Pathways to Modernism examines how American art became modern during the eighty-year period between 1865 and 1945, when the United States evolved from an agrarian society into an industrial nation. The exhibition, a collaboration with the Shanghai Museum, is drawn from the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Terra Foundation for American Art. +

This period was punctuated by conflict, from the American Civil War of the 1860s to the two World Wars of the twentieth century, but it was also a period of national expansion and technological innovation that witnessed a flourishing in the arts. This thematically arranged, chronologically sequenced exhibition explores the development of modern American art, as artists engaged with the political, economic, and cultural developments that transformed American society.

Featuring eighty paintings and works on paper by some of the greatest American masters, Pathways to Modernism highlights the artistic techniques and reflective practices that formed in response to the modernization of everyday life and showcases the gradual diversification of the artists who produced it. Works by artists including Frederic Edwin Church, Lilly Martin Spencer, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Archibald Motley, Jacob Lawrence, and Jackson Pollock explore how artistic practice helped shape and reflect an evolving nation.

Co-organized by the Shanghai Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.


Dates & Venues

September 23, 2018–January 6, 2019
Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection

The exhibition of paintings and works on paper features 43 works from the Terra Foundation Collection, including:


Pathways to Modernism: American Art, 1865–1945. Shanghai: Shanghai Museum, 2018.

Related Content

A five-day workshop on American Modernism was held at Fudan University from September 24–28, 2018, led by Dr. David Cateforis, Professor and Chair of the History of Art Department at the University of Kansas.

Press Reviews

Exhibition preview: Weng Jairuo, “The Age of ‘Night Visitors”: The Road to Modernism in American Art,” The Art Newspaper China (October 2018): 26–27.

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