Rediscovering Southern Art from the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Edited by Jonathan Stuhlman, Martha R. Severens

272 pp., 9 x 12, 196 color plates

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7408-7
    Published: June 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7409-4
    Published: April 2023
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6132-0
    Published: April 2023

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Inspired by a companion exhibition, Southern/Modern is the first book to survey progressive art created in the American South during the first half of the twentieth century. Featuring twelve essays, this lavishly illustrated volume includes all the works from the exhibition and assesses a broader body of contextual pieces to offer a fascinating, multipronged look at modernism's thriving presence in the South—until now, something largely overlooked in histories of American art. Contributors take a broad view of the region, considering artists working in the states below the Mason-Dixon Line and those bordering the Mississippi River. It examines the central roles played by women and artists of color, providing a fuller, richer, and more accurate overview of the artistic activity in the region than has been previously presented. The book is structured around key themes, including the embrace of "high" modernism, the importance of emerging university programs and artist colonies, the depiction of rural and urban modern life, and the role of artists from the South who left and artists from outside the region who came to the South seeking new subjects.

Contributors are Daniel Belasco, Katelyn D. Crawford, William Underwood Eiland, William R. Ferris, Shawnya Harris, Todd A. Herman, Karen Towers Klacsmann, Leo G. Mazow, Christopher C. Oliver, Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Martha R. Severens, Jonathan Stuhlman, Rebecca VanDiver, and Jonathan Frederick Walz.

Published in association with The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC

About the Authors

Jonathan Stuhlman is senior curator of American art at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For more information about Jonathan Stuhlman, visit the Author Page.

Martha R. Severens was curator at the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, from 1992 to 2010.

For more information about Martha R. Severens, visit the Author Page.


"Of the many strengths of Southern/Modern, a daring and revisionist show about the American South . . . the one that follows you out to your car is the alternate history of modern art it proposes. . . . This is a model exhibition: a targeted provincial study of the innovations we too often associate with Paris and New York.—New York Times

"A rich book [that] makes the case that modernism flourished in the South despite less recognition then and systemic exclusion since. . . . In a big sense, Southern/Modern is more than an aesthetic story. It is proof of alternate stories in the South."—Clarion-Ledger/Hattiesburg American

"A fantastic guide, Southern/Modern may be one of the first publications to underscore the connections artists held to both the South and each other, producing a fuller accounting of southern art from 1913 to 1955 than currently exists."—Jennifer Jankauskas, curator of art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

"Whether 'rediscovering' or encountering southern modernisms for the first time, readers of this valuable volume will find a welcome diversity of visual expressions shaped—even haunted—by place and identity.”—Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Bringing together an exceptional group of historians, Southern/Modern enriches the understanding of America and American art during the pivotal first half of the twentieth century."—Barbara Haskell, curator, The Whitney Museum of American Art

"This much-needed compendium—demonstrating the complexities of custom, race, gender, and geography—admirably and vividly parses a usually overlooked, dismissed, or ignored region of artistic activity in the United States."—Lowery Stokes Sims, 2021–22 Kress Beinecke Professor, The Center, National Gallery of Art