Charting the Course of Modern Art

Alfred H. Barr Jr., 1936. This chart illustrates the historical development, currents and crosscurrents of modern art


Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding Director of The Museum of Modern Art, wrote in the introduction to the catalogue for Cubism and Abstract Art in March of 1936 that the exhibition was “intended as an historical survey of an important movement in modern art.” It was the first in a series of five exhibitions that were curated between 1936 and 1943 devoted to the principal movements in modern art. The series also included Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism and Romantic Painting in America.


From the Museum of Modern Art Archives


This chart, hand-drawn by Barr, was a working draft of the first version of the chart that would appear on the dust jacket of the catalogue for Cubism and Abstract Art. Barr reworked the chart a number times thereafter; he never considered it definitive.