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On Display: 20th Century Icons

A touring collection of iconic modern works makes its way to San Diego

The arrival of traveling exhibit Gauguin to Warhol: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery at the San Diego Museum of Art marks one of the most exciting—and expansive—openings on the West Coast this year. The result of three years of discussion between the museum and the Buffalo, New York-based Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 20th Century Icons features an impressive selection of works from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, among many others.

A piece from the collection

Giacomo Balla’s ‘Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash’

As the exhibition’s only West Coast stop, viewers get the rare chance to see over 70 iconic pieces organized chronologically and thematically through the gallery to demonstrate the evolution of modern art, spanning Post-Impressionism to Pop art. It’s clear that the show’s organizers certainly didn’t skimp on quality when curating work for the show—some pieces are so highly valued that they will arrive individually in their own trucks, rather than shipping with the rest of the collection. 

The masterpieces are also so diverse that both educated art aficionados and those just becoming acquainted with the subject are sure to find something they recognize and connect with. “You can see one of Gauguin’s most iconic Tahitian paintings,” Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art, tells us, “a Picasso that has been printed in textbooks around the world, one of Frida Kahlo’s most recognized self-portraits, and one of Andy Warhol’s best known Pop art subjects.” She adds that this is also the first time in years that a Jackson Pollock piece is showing in San Diego, hanging in close proximity to a renowned piece of work by his wife, Lee Krasner.

A piece from the collection

Jackson Pollock’s ‘Convergence’

“Our goal with this exhibition and with everything we do is to remind visitors of the power of getting lost in a work of art. These are paintings and sculptures that must been seen to be believed,” says Baldwin.

Gauguin to Warhol: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is on display at the San Diego Museum of Art through January 27, 2015.