Introduction


From landscapes evoking the calm countryside to the robust energy of urban life, Monet to Dalí: Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art shows the creative experimentation and new directions that would characterize the world of modern art. Seventy-five European masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art show the gradual shift from the reliance on artistic tradition to an insistence on individual innovation in art. Every gallery contains works by some of the most acclaimed artists of the period, including Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Dalí.

In keeping with the DIA's approach in the permanent collection galleries, the exhibition is organized along thematic lines. The works are grouped into five sections, each of which explores a powerful influence on modern artists. Claude Monet's painting The Wheat Field introduces the first section, a gallery of landscapes which evokes the calm of the countryside and discusses both the embrace and reworking of the tradition of landscape painting. The next section, by contrast, features works that look at the underlying anxieties of the evolving modern world, including a large-scale Blue Period Picasso and a late work by Van Gogh. Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque as well as the pure order and balance of Mondrian are included in the third section, on the new-found sense of freedom to experiment. The fourth section focuses on the influence of psychology and artists' attempts to express an inner life and features the characteristically Surrealist painting The Dream by Salvador Dalí. The final section, the energy and dynamism of urban life, has scenes of café life and elegant portraits of urban sophisticates by Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse. Together these exceptional examples of the period remind us why modern art has so captured the popular imagination.

Just as the exhibition explores ways in which society, modern life, and emotions have influenced these artists, it also invites visitors to engage in thinking about their own response to the paintings. "Personal Connections" labels highlight a selection of works that resonate with curators, educators, or the director. The audio tour weaves personal responses into art-historical discussions. You can also share your thoughts and feelings about the works on view through digital response stations at the end of the exhibition and through an online component. Click on "Share Your Thoughts" to start the discussion today!

Click on "Share Your Thoughts" to start the discussion today!

Portrait of a Woman, c. 1917–18
Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920). Portrait of a Woman, c. 1917–18. Oil on canvas; 65 x 48.3 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1951.358. © The Cleveland Museum of Art">
Self-Portrait with Hat, 1919
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884–1976). Self-Portrait with Hat, 1919. Oil on canvas; 73.3 x 65 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Bequest of Dr. William R. Valentiner 1965.440. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn">
The Large Plane Trees (Les grands platanes)
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890). The Poplars at Saint-Rémy (Les peupliers sur la Colline), 1889. Oil on fabric; 61.6 x 45.7 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr. 1958.32. © The Cleveland Museum of Art">
Self-Portrait with Hat, 1919
This exhibition has been organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In Detroit, the exhibition is proudly sponsored by Bank of America. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.