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Wisconsin Modernists: Rebels from Regionalism

February 1 - June 3, 2018

Wisconsin Modernists: Rebels from Regionalism explores the state’s artists who were practicing modernist tendencies in their artwork from the late 1930s through the 1960s. Modernism in America was an artistic path that occurred later than the influential Post-Impressionist, Fauvist and Cubist trends in Europe, and it was later still in expressing itself in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Modernists rejected or bypassed the prevailing Regionalism trends in art to create their own unique, divergent path. Some practiced Modernism for the majority of their artistic career; for others, it was a period of experimentation amidst other paths.


Three of the artists in this exhibition were consistent Modernists over the years:  Carl Holty, Lucia Stern, and Fred Berman. The number of works by each of these artists reflects that career-long, consistent path.  Holty and Stern had direct paths to Modernist trends through travels, study, or living in Europe, and became disseminators of avant-garde artistic trends when they interacted with other artists or cultural leaders in the state. Berman, who exhibited his works nationally and internationally, went through various stages of abstraction, starting in the early 1950s and progressing to large, non-objective paintings in the 1960s and beyond. Many of the other artists in this exhibition were expressing Modernism with abstracted urban or geometric subjects (not the idyllic view of the Regionalists’ rural subjects), flattening the pictorial space or their figurative subjects, or manipulating color, line, and shape in their non-representational artwork. 


Because of the many different paths that Modernism could take in the Midwest, this exhibition narrows its focus to artists who were painting or using mixed media to strive for abstraction or non-objective subjects in their artwork. The various stages of abstraction are shown, as artists moved from naturalistic tendencies through abstraction to works that explore color, shape, and form for their own sake.


Cedarburg Art Museum’s Wisconsin Modernists exhibition features over 25 artists and 68 artworks, mostly from private collections, that are coming together for the first time. The February 1 through June 3, 2018 exhibition time includes programs by local experts and educators for adults and children. This exhibition and its programming are generously supported by the Rita Edquist Memorial Fund and the Cedarburg Junior Women's Club. 

Artists in Wisconsin Modernists: Rebels from Regionalism: Donald Anderson, Fred Berman, Ed Boerner, Robert Burkert, Ralph Cieslik, Theodore Czebotar, Hulda Rotier Fischer, Joseph Friebert, Byron Gere, Emily Groom, Morley Hicks, Carl Holty, Robert Henry Johnson, Audrey Lampier, Mary Nohl, Ida Ozonoff, Burton Potterveld, Laurence Rathsack, Carl F. Riter, Robert Schellin, Lucia Stern, Helmut Summ, Melvin Tess, Howard W. Thomas, Arthur Thrall, Charles Thwaites, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, Doris White, Santos Zingale.

Exhibition Lenders: Brook Brown, Ric Hartman, Lawrence University Wriston Art Center, Barbara Manger, Ken Marx, Kevin Milaeger, Win Thrall, Joan Zingale.


Wisconsin Modernists Exhibition Catalogue

100+ pages of full color images, artist biographies, and essays. Purchase your copy on-demand today! 

Fred Berman, Detail George W. Randolph, collage, 1954-55

Courtesy of Fred Berman Trust

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