The Museum’s collection of modern art encompasses styles and approaches that were developed over a roughly seventy-five-year span during the 19th and 20th centuries, when artists were beginning to reject art’s conventional role as a noble or instructive pursuit whose ideal form was the realistic representation of historical subjects. Highlights include outstanding early and mid-century works by Alexander Archipenko, Alfred Leslie, Salvador Dalí, Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson and Mark Tobey. The mid-20th century is represented by a selection of European and American black and white photographs; notable among them are pictures by Irving Penn, Imogen Cunningham, George Platt Lynes, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Berenice Abbott, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The Museum’s contemporary art collection has been assembled to reflect the myriad ways in which artists of the past 100 years have approached art-making, as traditional genres have expanded, splintered, and hybridized. There is a strong and diverse collection of sculpture including works by, Robert Arneson, Nancy Graves, Mel Edwards, Sue Williamson, Kenneth Snelson, Lynda Benglis, Mel Chin, Chakaia Booker, Roni Horn, Nick Cave, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Luis Jiminez, Scott Burton. Sited on the Museum grounds are sculptures by Fernando Botero, Luis Jiménez, Anthony Caro, and George Rickey. Several of these large-scale works were created for specific sites at the Museum by artists including Valerie Jaudon, Sol LeWitt, Elyn Zimmerman, Dale Chihuly and Tara Donovan. There are fine examples of abstract painting by Juan Usle, Frank Stella, Elizabeth Murray, Kennth Noland, Beatriz Milhazes, Odili Donald Odita and Callum Innes. The collection includes excellent contemporary photographs by Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Candida Hofer, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Lorna Simpson, James Casebere, Vic Muniz, William Christenberry and David Levinthal, and videos by Ann Hamilton, Tabaimo, Joseph Grigely, Bill Viola and Emily Jacir.