When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection (2016-2017)

The first traveling exhibition in more than forty years of this extraordinary collection of American modern art.

Financier Roy R. Neuberger (1903–2010), one of the twentieth century’s foremost collectors, built a groundbreaking collection of American modern art, the full impact of which is only now being assessed. Recognizing the significance of the art of his own time, Neuberger acquired work by a remarkable selection of modern masters, including Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Marsden Hartley, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, and numerous others. Neuberger said of himself, “I have not collected art as an investor would, I collect art because I love it.”

Neuberger developed his passion for art while in Paris in the 1920s and began collecting in earnest after returning home to New York City in 1929. He was committed to buying the work of living artists, in order to support the artists themselves, and formed relationships with many influential artists, dealers, and critics. By 1950, the center of the avant-garde art world had shifted from Paris to New York, and Neuberger’s was the most important collection of modern art in the country.

When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection is the first traveling exhibition in more than forty years to focus on this exceptional group of works. With some fifty paintings and sculptures, the exhibition illuminates the artistic transformations that took place in the U.S. during the first half of the twentieth century while also exploring Neuberger’s significant role as a collector of and advocate for the contemporary art of his time, providing unique insight into one of the most fertile periods in American art.



Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
April 9–October 30, 2016
Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
December 2, 2016–January 29, 2017
Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA
February 25–May 21, 2017
Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID
June 10–August 27, 2017
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Albuquerque, NM
September 30–December 31, 2017


Tracy Fitzpatrick is the director of the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, State University of New York.


When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, SUNY.

Neuberger Berman is the national tour sponsor of When Modern Was Contemporary. Additional support is provided by the JFM Foundation and Mrs. Donald M. Cox. In-kind support is provided by Christie’s. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. Generous support for the original presentation and the accompanying catalogue was provided by Helen Stambler Neuberger and Jim Neuberger. Sotheby’s has provided in-kind support to the Neuberger Museum.

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