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A Century of Self-Expression: Modern American Art in the Collection of John and Joanne Payson

February 28 – June 1, 2014

Class of 1912 Rare Book Room, Canaday Library.

Gallery open from noon to 4:30pm daily. Open until 7 pm Wednesdays when classes are in session.


A Century of Self-Expression: Modern American Art in the Collection of John and Joanne Payson is a student-curated exhibition that marks the centennial of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (more popularly known as the “Armory Show”) and explores the way visual, cultural, and intellectual conditions have changed dramatically since it transformed American visions of art and of the artist.  Drawing on the unique and influential Payson collection, the chronology of the exhibition reaches as far back as the work of James McNeill Whistler to explore the context in which the show arose; continues through the work of artists involved in the Armory Show, such as Walt Kuhn, John Sloan, and Arthur B. Davies; and ends with Yvonne Jacquette’s abstract cityscapes, which help to illustrate its profound effect on succeeding generations of artists.

The thirty-six works on view comprise a wide variety of media—paintings, works on paper, photography, and sculpture—by artists including Max Weber, Paul Cadmus, Jacob Lawrence, Red Grooms, and Louise Nevelson.  Information, analysis, and opinion are available for a wide variety of audiences, and a range of public programs—including receptions, artist and scholar talks, film screenings, and school and community group tours—accompany the exhibition, which is organized by Bryn Mawr College 360° course cluster students in collaboration with History of Art faculty and Special Collections/Art and Artifacts staff.  The catalogue for the exhibition includes essays by Armory Show scholar Laurette E. McCarthy and 360 course cluster instructors Steven Z. Levine and Brian Wallace, excerpts from a conversation with collectors John and Joanne Payson, and entries on individual works of art by each of the participating students. 

A Century of Self-Expression brings together works that helped to create and reflect a new and distinctly modern perspective that grapples with the meanings of individuality and community in a world where abstraction mixes with reality, truth with invention, and fragmentation with connection. At the same time, it traces the acquisition and interpretation of twentieth-century American art through an influential and historically important collection that sits, in important ways, at the center of American collecting history.  

Opening Party

Friday, February 28, 5:30-7:30 pm, Bryn Mawr College Canaday Library

Celebrate with dancer Christina Zani, DJ John Schenk aka Tantrum Tonic, and the

student curators


Art, Museums, and the Academy

Thursday, March 20, 7:00 pm, Bryn Mawr College Carpenter Library B21

Making Museum Men: Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum between the World Wars

Lecture by Andrew McClellan, Tufts University

Artist, Scholar, and Student Voices

Friday, March 28, 6:00 pm, Bryn Mawr College Thomas Hall 224

Artist talk and reception with painter Yvonne Jacquette

Saturday, March 29, 9:30am, Bryn Mawr College Thomas Hall 110

Breakfast and presentation by Armory Show scholar Laurette McCarthy

and 360° course cluster students

Meet the Filmmakers

Monday, May 5, 7:00 pm, Bryn Mawr Film Institute (Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA)

The Great Confusion: the 1913 Armory Show

Community screening, Q & A, and reception with Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton

More information about all these programs is available at 610.526.6576 and

John and Joanne Payson, the Friends of Bryn Mawr College Library, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and—at Bryn Mawr College—the offices of the President and the Provost, the 360 course cluster program, the Museum Studies Working Group, Information Services/Library, the Department of the History of Art, and the Teaching and Learning Institute have provided invaluable support for these programs.

360° is a new interdisciplinary experience that creates an opportunity to participate in a cluster of multiple courses connecting students and faculty in a single semester (or in some cases across contiguous semesters) to focus on common problems, themes, and experiences for the purposes of research and scholarship. Interdisciplinary and interactive, 360° builds on Bryn Mawr’s strong institutional history of learning experiences beyond the traditional classroom, placed within a rigorous academic framework. 360° participants hone their arguments and insights through writing and research, develop strategies for teamwork that push the limits of their talents and creativity, and work with professors and scholars to promote big-picture thinking. Travel associated with the 360° program is funded by Bryn Mawr College.  For more 360° courses, please see For more about the 360°

course Exhibitn Modern Art, please see


.Berenice Abbott, New York Stock Exchange

Berenice Abbott
New York Stock Exchange, 1933
On loan courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. John W. and Joanne D. Payson

Paul Cadmus, To E. M. Forster

Cadmus, Paul
To E. M. Forster, 1943
Pencil and egg tempera on hand-toned paper
On loan courtesy of Joanne D. Payson

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Diana of the Tower

Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Diana of the Tower, after 1907
On loan courtesy of Joanne D. Payson

Jo Davidson, Joan Whitney Payson
Davidson, Jo
Bust of Joan Whitney Payson, 1932
On loan courtesy of Joanne D. Payson

Yvonne Jacquette, Motion Picture (Times Square)

Jacquette, Yvonne
Motion Picture (Times Square), 1987
Color woodcut
On loan courtesy of Joanne D. Payson