This exhibition brought together acclaimed European paintings and sculptures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including works by Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh. Together, these works illuminated the spirit of innovation and creativity that marks one of the most extraordinary epochs in the history of art.
Between 1860 and 1960, Europe faced a series of social, political, and economic upheavals: industrialization, the Franco-Prussian War, decolonization, and the First and Second World Wars. During the same century, the German philosophers Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) and the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) offered radical new ways to interpret the human experience. Art also underwent major transformations as a series of movements, beginning with Realism and ending in Surrealism, rapidly succeeded one another. The chronological presentation of paintings and sculptures in this exhibition demonstrated the ways artists built on each other's ideas and discoveries while making their own distinctive contributions to the history of art. Friendship and rivalry, creativity and rebellion, new ways of seeing and unconventional techniques were themes of this sweeping presentation of works by Europe's modern masters.