American Art at Mid-Century: The Subjects of the Artist

This exhibition featured 63 works by seven New York School artists: Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), Arshile Gorky (1904–1948), Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), Barnett Newman (1905–1970), Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), Mark Rothko (1903–1970), and David Smith (1906–1965). The show took its subtitle from an important but short-lived New York school and lecture series (1948–1949), Subjects of the Artist, of which Rothko and Motherwell were among the founders. American Art at Mid-Century highlighted specific themes within each artist’s oeuvre and presented them as a series of one-man installations. The Rothko room featured eight large-scale Brown and Gray paintings on paper from 1969, lent by the estate of the artist. The exhibition was curated by E. A. Carmean of the National Gallery of Art, and it was one of the first shows held in the newly opened East Building (I. M. Pei, 1978).