Prendergast to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

February 7, 2015 - May 10, 2015

The exhibition, Prendergast to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institutefeatures 35 masterworks, drawn from the permanent collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. Prendergast to Pollock includes important paintings by many of the leading progressive and avant-garde American artists who shaped the history of American art in the first half of the 20th century, including, Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928), Arthur G. Dove (1880-1946), Arshile Gorky (1904-48), Edward Hopper (1882-1967), George B. Luks (1866-1933), Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Jackson Pollock (1912-56), Maurice B. Prendergast (1858-1924), Theodoros Stamos (1922-97), and Mark Tobey (1890-1976). Additional works are drawn from the Everson Museum’s permanent collection.

Through these paintings visitors will explore three kinds of traditional artistic subject matter—landscape, still life and figurative work. Other works in the exhibition embody different manifestations of the mid-20th century art movement known as Abstract Expressionism—the first American art movement to receive international recognition and influence. In addition to the iconic beauty of the works in the exhibition, visitors will have an opportunity to observe how leading modern American artists depicted similar representational and abstract subject matter.

Many of the paintings in Prendergast to Pollock were originally owned by Edward Wales Root (1884-1956) of Clinton, N.Y., a pioneering collector of modern American art who, over the course of nearly five decades, kept current with the contemporary art of his lifetime. In 1953 The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City displayed a large selection of works from his collection. This was the first private collection of contemporary American art ever exhibited at that institution. MWPAI Museum of Art Director D’Ambrosio noted, “Edward Wales Root is among the most important collectors of modern art of his generation. His personal relationships with artists and his keen eye resulted in an exceptionally strong representation of the transformation of the visual arts in the first half of the 20th century.”

In 1957 Root bequeathed his large collection of 227 American modernist pictures ranging in date from 1902 to 1953 by eighty different American artists to the Utica museum. Root’s bequest was one of the most important donations of American modernist art in its time. It brought national attention to the fledgling Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, and profoundly influenced its subsequent collecting activity, its exhibition program, and the Institute’s decision to commission architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005) to design his first art museum, which opened to international acclaim in 1960.

This traveling exhibition was organized by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, Utica, New York. The Henry Luce Foundation provided funding for the conservation of artworks in the exhibition.

Everson presentation made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Dr. Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan, M&T Bank, Everson Members’ Council, Upstate Medical University, Cadaret Grant & Co., Inc., Cannon Pools & Spas, Bonnie and Gary Grossmann, Tina Press & David Rubin, Louise Rosenfield, Catherine J. Winger, SOS Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, AXA, and Sedgwick Business Interiors.

The operation of the Everson Museum of Art is made possible with funding from the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, the County of Onondaga administered by the CNY Arts, Trust for Cultural Resources of Onondaga County, the Central New York Community Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, Everson Board of Trustees and Everson Museum of Art Members’ Council.  


General Admission
$5 Everson Members
$10 Non-members
$8 Students, Military, Educators, Seniors
$30 Family Packs (2 adults and 4 children under 18)
Children under 10 admitted free


Daily Docent Led Tours 

2.00pm, Free with exhibition admission
Check in at the Visitors Services Desk

Audio Tour

Take a self-guided tour of Prendergast to Pollock. Borrow an iPod from the Visitors Service Desk to learn even more about this extraordinary collection.