Modernism in the Midwest: Carl Holty and William S. Schwartz at the Massillon Museum

Carl Holty - Pink Lady

Carl Holty, "Pink Lady," 1948, oil on masonite, 18 x 14 inches

Carol Lowrey

Scholarship on the American modernist tradition tends to focus on artists working in New York, Philadelphia and Paris during the early 1900s.  However, Against the Grain: Modernism in the Midwest––a landmark exhibition currently on view at the Massillon Museum in Ohio––proves that the trend toward experimentation and advanced aesthetic thinking was actually much broader, permeating the vision of many artists with links to the Midwest.

As Christine Fowler Shearer, curator of the exhibition, states in the foreword to the catalogue, the Massillon Museum “often takes the risk to tackle subjects, uncover artists, and provide new insights into topics that are often overlooked.” With this in mind, she has assembled approximately 70 paintings by Midwestern artists––among them Ivan Albright, Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Alice Schille and William Zorach––who abandoned traditional styles such as Impressionism and Realism in favor of progressive strategies relative to form and color.  The show features loans from private and public collections, as well as three works from Spanierman Gallery’s current inventory of paintings: Pink Lady and Europa, by Carl Holty (1900-1973), and Mountain Landscape, by William S. Schwartz (1896-1977). Continue reading