American 20th-21st Century Representational Art



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American 20th-21st Century Representational Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

Following are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:


2007 - 2010



2004 - July though December

January - June 2004






"While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all."

- Ray Bradbury in his Preface to Zen in the Art of Writing (1990). Quote is sourced from Wikipedia.


From other websites:

American Art Collections Exhibits

American Art Depicting Dance

American Art Depicting Food

American Artist Paintings of Foreign Scenes

American Artist Retrospective Exhibits

American Assemblage Art

American Collage Art

American Enamel Art

American Graffiti Art

American Mixed Media Art

American Papercut Art

American Rural Life Paintings

American Tattoo Art

American Tinware Art

American 20th-21st Century Art by Decades

American Visionary Art

Chicago Imagists Art


Other Art, Not Classified

Apple Pie: Symbols of Americana in MMoCA's Permanent Collection, an exhibit held January 23, 2010 to April 11, 2010 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "Works of art in the exhibition function as a fulcrum for exploring America's archetypal symbols and for investigating the divide between the diverse experience of American life and the persistence of its core iconic images and themes." Accessed February, 2015

Curiosity: From the Faraway Nearby, an exhibit held Saturday, October 27, 2012 - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at the Harwood Museum of Art, University of New Mexico. Includes essay by Jina Brenneman, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions. Accessed January, 2015.

Esmé Thompson: The Alchemy of Design, an exhibit held April 9 through May 29, 2011 at the Hood Museum of Art. Includes podcast interview and press release. Accessed January, 2015

Eternal Beauty: Egg Tempera Paintings by Fred Wessel is a 2016 exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts which says: "Fred Wessel is among the artists today working in egg tempera and he has emerged as a true master of the medium." Also see artist's website  Accessed 2/19

Go is a 2017 exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago which says: "Through paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, designed objects, textiles, books, and films, Go reveals not only how speed has been celebrated but also how it has been managed and resisted. Thus, as a title, Go summons both the initiation of movement -- a launch -- and a kind of ongoingness." Accessed 3/17

In Pursuit of Strangeness: Wyeth and Westermann in Dialogue is a 2013 exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum which says: "Dating from the early twentieth century to the present, the works on view exemplify the complexities of our relationship to home and place through unsettling perspectives and unusual materials, subverting  the understanding of home as familiar (heimlich) and transforming it into something foreign (unheimlich). The exhibition also investigates the difference between a house and a home, as well as how homes become extensions of their inhabitants. In addition to Wyeth and Westermann, other artists in the show include Ralph Gibson, Marilyn Anne Levine, Bruce Nauman, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White, among others." Accessed 2/17

Jessi Reaves: Kitchen Arrangement is a 2018 exhibit at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art which says: "Jessi Reaves's sculptures impersonate and inhabit functional design objects - sofas, chairs, ottomans, tables, bookcases, lamps, cabinets, and coat racks - as she imaginatively remasters existing furniture or composes her own to underscore an inherent performativity. The unlikely union of disparate materials, steel, drift wood, saw dust, zippers, plywood, and car fenders, endows her charismatic objects with signifying temperaments that span the shapely and sensuous and the misshapen and contorted." Accessed 6/18

Katherine Bradford is a 2017 exhibit at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth which says: "Katherine Bradford is known for her vibrant palette, faux-naïf style, and eccentric compositions. Often built up over months and sometimes years, the surfaces of Bradford's paintings are textured, comprising multiple thin, semi-transparent coats of acrylic paint, with hints of pentimenti in the final compositions." Accessed 12/17

Kay Rosen - H Is for House is a 2017 exhibit at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art which says: "Rosen's text-based works use formalism, linguistics, and humor to reveal content that is hidden within both the structural nature of written language and the ways in which meaning can be generated through the manipulation of text." Also see artist's website. Accessed 4/17

L.A. Skin & Ink is a 2012-13 exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum which says: "The exhibition will move through the transformation of tattooing from its traditional base of military and outlaw cultures into an art form of great distinction and adoption into contemporary culture." Accessed 2/17

Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist is a 2017 exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston which says: "Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist, the artist's first U.S. survey, examines 30 years of his pioneering inquiries into how we collect, interpret, and display nature." Accessed 12/1

Messaging: Text and Visual Art was a 2010-11 exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art which says: "Text in art mirrors the language of our daily lives, drawing on newspapers, advertisements, and personal stories. This exhibition focuses on how artists since the 1960s have used text in their work The term "messaging" in the title evokes changes in communications that have occurred in recent years. The technological advances that have been underway since the 1990s not only brought about unprecedented changes in the fields of science and industry, but they are also transforming our language." Viewers may download the exhibition catalog. Accessed 1/17

Murder, She Said is a 2016-17 exhibit at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, which says: "This exhibition will explore why murder is so often a source of fascination frequently inflected by irony and wry humor in the visual /arts today....The appeal of murder itself, as reflected in art and literature, is in some ways easy to understand. Artworks can provide us the vicarious satisfaction of dispatching our enemies - and thus of controlling death, the very eventuality that, in real life, implacably haunts, defies, and defeats us." Accesssed 11/16

Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment is a 2018 exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum which says: "Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment presents more than 120 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, videos, and works of decorative art, from the colonial period to the present, exploring for the first time how American artists of different traditions and backgrounds have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding while contributing to the development of a modern ecological consciousness."   Accessed 2/19

Partners and Adversaries: The Art of Collaboration was a 2012 exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art which says: "Drawn largely from the Sheldon Museum of Art's permanent collection, Partners and Adversaries: The Art of Collaboration explores the productive and often ambivalent partnerships that coalesce around artistic practices. These include familial and romantic relationships, where ambitions and successes may clash and collide at the expense of one partner; the mutually dependent yet divergent interests of artists and their dealers; the dance of imitation and distinction between student and teacher; the official sanction of government support, everywhere shadowed by the threat of moralizing censure; and, increasingly in contemporary art, new processes and technologies that empower fabricators whom artists must collaborate with to achieve the results they desire." Viewers may download the exhibition catalog. Accessed 1/17

Plastic Imagination, an exhibit held at the Fitchburg Art Museum September 25, 2016 - January 15, 2017. FAM says: "Plastic - a product inextricably tied to the manufacturing history of North Central Massachusetts ­ has many characteristics that make it fantastically unique. This multi-purpose material can be luminous, colorful, lightweight, strong, durable, practical, playful, affordable, and aerodynamic. It can conjure associations with industrial accomplishment, foment feelings of nostalgia, and trigger very real fears about consumption and waste.... Plastic Imagination explores the work of 10 contemporary New England artists who create extraordinary things with all kinds of plastics. Lisa Barthelson, Tom Deininger, Dana Filibert, Joseph Fucigna, Lynne Harlow, Niho Kozuru, Margaret Roleke, Dean Snyder, Bill Thompson, and Brian Zink all find inspiration in the fillers, films and moldable plastics made popular throughout the last century. Some shave, sand, sculpt, and paint different densities of foam. Some play up the translucent or opaque qualities of Plexi or Fiberglass, and some recycle plastic toys, treasures, and trash. Some present readily accessible, everyday plastics as strictly formal studies, while others crave the layers of meaning (social, political, cultural, environmental, and economic) that result from a focus on this ubiquitous and arguably indispensable material." Worcester Magazine featured the exhibit 9/15/16 in "The fantastic world of plastic" by Corlyn Voorhees; published "Plastics spotlighted in Fitchburg Art Museum exhibit" by Nancy Sheehan on 10/3/16 Accessed 10/16.

Polymer Art: Recent Acquisitions is a 2018 exhibit at the Racine Art Museum which says: "Referencing the significance of the groundwork laid in earlier years, Polymer Art includes pieces that were part of the original gift that established RAM's polymer collection, the largest of its kind in the world. In 2011, the Racine Art Museum organized Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads, an exhibition featuring works made of polymer, a workable plastic-based compound used to make modeling clays, such as Fimo® or Sculpey®." Also see The Polymer Arts magazine. Accessed 2/18

Serial Intent is a 2017 exhibit at the Akron Art Museum which says: "With Pop Art prints, dramatic photographic series, evocative narratives, and more, the Akron Art Museum's exhibition Serial Intent offers visitors the rare opportunity to experience multi-part artwork within the serial contexts intended by the artists who created them." Also see news release  Accessed 8/17

SHE: Picturing women at the turn of the 21st century is a 2014 exhibit at the David Winton Bell Gallery which says: "Spanning a period of twenty-four years -- from 1989 to 2013 -- SHE presents a broad-ranging selection of contemporary representations of women." Accessed  12/18 

Something Wicked This Way Comes, an exhibit held January 24, 2009 to April 11, 2009 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "A major new exhibition of works from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art explores the various ways that artists have represented evil in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries." Accessed February, 2015

Suzanne McClelland: Just Left Feel Right is a 2017 exhibit at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art which says: "McClelland is most widely known for her deft use of linguistics and her sensually textured surfaces. She mines the ways in which communities speak, collecting language and choosing words that trend, are debated, heard on street corners, and absorbed from streaming news feeds; words that are rich in meaning, that reach and multiply, that drop in and out of everyday life." Also see artist's website. Accessed 4/17

Thenceforward, and Forever Free an exhibit held August 22 - December 22, 2012 at the Haggerty Museum of Art. Includes exhibit catalogue. Accessed Accessed August, 2015

Thomas Woodruff: Freak Parade, an exhibit held Jan. 27 - April 18, 2010 at the Haggerty Museum of Art. Accessed August, 2015.

TL Solien: Myths & Monsters, an exhibit held May 17, 2008 to August 17, 2008 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "Throughout his prolific career, TL Solien has created works that interweave literal and metaphorical layers in an effort to convey complex thoughts and emotions. An influential figure in the Midwest for decades, Solien is also known nationally for canvases that explore personal experience with a dense visual lexicon of created and appropriated images. TL Solien: Myths & Monsters will feature works from the 1980s, as the artist explored life as a new father, to current works that employ literary figures as repositories for his thoughts and fears." Accessed February, 2015

Toward Resolution: Artists' Studies from the Collection, an exhibit held May 3 - July 31, 2014 at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy. Includes illustrated checklist. Accessed January, 2016.

"The Whole World for Your Children": Artists' Reinterpretations of the 1934 Britannica Junior was a 2015 exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art, which says: "From animals to vegetables, poetry to history, the Britannica Junior promised to bring the whole world into your home. Now, the artists in this exhibition extend the encyclopedia's reach once more to provide a contemporary, creative interpretation of the knowledge bound within its pages." Viewers may read the 16-page gallery book online. Accessed 11/16


Visiting...With Huell Howser - LINT ART is an archived 28-minute television broadcast presented online by KCET. "Huell visits his artist friend Slater Barron to witness the beauty of art made from lint. Yes, lint." Text courtesy of KCET. Accessed January, 2015.

PBS provides a variety of streaming video sources for American art. PBS's two-season television series Art-21, Art in the Twenty-First Century. PBS explains that the series is "the only series on television to focus exclusively on contemporary visual art and artists in the United States, and it uses the medium of television to provide an experience of the visual arts that goes far beyond a gallery visit. Fascinating and intimate footage allows the viewer to observe the artists at work, watch their process as they transform inspiration into art, and hear their thoughts as they grapple with the physical and visual challenges of achieving their artistic visions." The Art-21 website contains video clips relating to each of the many featured artists including Laurie Anderson, Margaret Kilgallen, Sally Mann, Bruce Nauman, Raymond Pettibon, Martin Puryear, Susan Rothenberg, Collier Schorr, Kiki Smith, William Wegman and Fred Wilson. The Art:21 series and its companion materials answer the following questions: who are today's artists?; what are they thinking about?; how do they describe their work? and why do they do what they do? The Season One and Two home videos are two sets with four hours each. Viewers meet "a diverse group of contemporary artists through revealing profiles that take viewers behind the scenes-into artists' studios, homes, and communities -- to provide an intimate view of their lives, work, sources of inspiration, and creative processes." Representational as well as abstract artists are featured in the videos. Accessed May, 2015.

Philocetes Center presents a discussion with Chuck Close, Vincent Katz, and Matthew von Unwerth about the film "Chuck Close," directed by Marion Cajori. [32:40] Accessed May, 2015.


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