Mississippi Meets Modern.

By Amanda Wells | Photos by Jim Frank, Courtesy of American Federation of Arts

The Mississippi Museum of Art is celebrating its love of modern art with an unprecedented exhibition of 20th Century Modern Masters from April 9 – October 30.

The American Federation of Arts (AFA) and the Neuberger Museum of Art present When Modern was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection. This event marks the very first traveling exhibition of this revolutionary collection, spanning 40 years of American modern art.


“Given Roy R. Neuberger’s longstanding association with the AFA, we are extraordinarily proud to tour this magnificent collection,” says Pauline Willis, AFA Director. “It’s an honor to work with the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College. We are inspired by Neuberger’s commitment to arts advocacy and look forward to bringing his collection to museums across the nation.”

The late financier Roy R. Neuberger (1903 – 2010) developed an intense love of art during time spent in Paris in the 1920s. After reading a biography of Vincent Van Gogh, Neuberger was impacted by the fact that the artist died in poverty, while his paintings sold for high prices following his death. Neuberger believed the contemporary world should buy the work of contemporary artists, and he was dedicated to buying paintings soon after their creation. He became a devoted advocate of the art of his time, amassing a significant collection of modern masters, including Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Marsden Hartley, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.


After returning to New York in 1929, Neuberger noted that he did not collect art as an investment, but as a true lover of art. By 1950, the center of the avant-garde art world had shifted from Paris to New York, and Neuberger found himself as the most important collector of contemporary American art in the country. Neuberger was ahead of the curve in his appreciation for now household names like Jackson Pollock. Neuberger’s commitment to making contemporary art more accessible, he joined the AFA in 1946 and served as president of the board of trustees from 1958 to 1967. In 1969, he generously donated a large portion of his valuable collection to the State University of New York to found the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College.

When Modern was Contemporary features some 50 paintings and sculptures, and highlights the artistic transformations that came to light during the first half of the 20th century in America. This exhibition also explores Neuberger’s significant role as a collector and art advocate. Since Neuberger’s death in 2010, at the age of 107, When Modern was Contemporary was born out of a new scholarship and interpretation undertaken by the Neuberger Museum. Viewing the collection and its collector in tandem allows for unique insight into the period when the history of modern art in America was being made.

MS-MODERN-WEB-3“It is our great pleasure to host this incredible exhibition featuring work by so many of the 20th century’s most dynamic and revered artists,” says Betsy Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. “Never before in Mississippi have artworks by this inimitable group of creators shared a museum exhibition space. We’re honored to make them available to visual art explorers from across the region and beyond.”

Join the Mississippi Museum of Art to kick off this special occasion on Friday, April 8 at the Party of the (Mid) Century Benefit at 7:00 p.m. The event is inspired by Truman Capote’s infamous “Party of the Century,” held some 50 years ago at the height of New York’s modern art revolution. His black and white ball hosted the most glamorous of celebrities and partygoers. The Museum’s Party of the (Mid) Century brings this legendary revelry into the contemporary space with a curated dinner, dynamic live theatre portraying Mark Rothko himself, music, signature cocktails from the state’s finest mixologists, and all the mystery of a first-class masquerade.

The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are sponsored in part by the city of Jackson and the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For more information about the Mississippi Museum of Art’s exhibitions, programs and special events, please call 601.960.1515 or 866.VIEW.ART, or visit msmuseumart.org.