Modern and Contemporary Art


The Museum’s International Modern and Contemporary art collection contains a series of iconic pieces by many of the most important masters of the early twentieth century, mid-century, and late twentieth to twenty-first centuries. Works are displayed in a suite of spacious galleries surrounding a multi-story sculpture court that reflects a decidedly global focus.

Natalia Goncharova’s Springtime (1917) and Edward Steichen’s Nocturne (1910) are consequential surprises. A rare monumental work by Joan Miró, Signs and Figurations (1936), is most notable for its monochrome palette executed in silent protest over the many troubles then befalling the artist’s native Spain. Significant works by David Alfaro Siquerios, Joaquín Torres-García, Albert Bloch, Jean Metzinger, Ben Nicholson, and Gabriele Münter tell a compelling story of Expressionism, Surrealism, and Constructivism in the early twentieth century. Among the many surprises is Mary Swanzy’s romantic and dreamlike Young Claudius (1942). A recent acquisition is Georges Rouault’s Christ on the Cross (1942), given in anticipation of the collection’s sesquicentennial in 2025.

The mid-century gallery features Grace Hartigan’s colossal The King is Dead (1950), one of the Museum’s most celebrated works. The painting was the centerpiece of her first New York exhibition and is the only painting Hartigan kept and lived with for most of her life. A counterpoint to The King is Dead is a stunning pair of figures in Phillip Pearlstein’s Two Female Nudes (1964). Most of the major international artistic currents are represented with noteworthy canvases by Georgia O’Keefe, Rufino Tamayo, Theodoros Stamos, Adolph Gottlieb, Emilio Vedova, and the postwar schools of Paris. Of particular interest are a number of significant works given by Josef Albers, who visited and lectured at the University of Notre Dame.

In the space devoted to the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the most noteworthy work is Sean Scully’s exceptional Wall of Light Black (1998). The gallery’s focus is decidedly international, with paintings ranging from Bernard Williams’s Buffalo Soldiers (1996) to Andy Goldsworthy’s recent Flag: Indiana (2020). A recent acquisition of great consequence is Zhang Huan’s monumental Ash Banquet (2020), created with incense ash suspended in pigment.

In addition, sculpture plays a significant role in the collection, with works of extraordinary importance found throughout. Extensive historical collections of works by George Rickey, Kenneth Snelson, and Ivan Meštrović are well known; other critically important pieces meriting attention are by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Richard Hunt, Beverly Pepper, George Segal, Chakaia Booker, and Jaume Plensa.