McNay Collection /  Art after 1945
Art after 1945

American and European postwar paintings and sculptures at the McNay reflect two parallel developments in the art world: an ongoing departure from illusionism while maintaining references to nature; and the dominance of the abstract or nonrepresentational. As the art world’s focus shifted from Europe to New York City, an explosion of large abstract painting occurred during the period, influenced by émigré European abstract and surrealist artists along with American painters’ experiences creating murals. Growth in the area of postwar sculpture began after the museum’s opening in the mid-1950s and increased in the 1990s.


The McNay’s growing collection of contemporary art features a diverse mix of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that explore the wide range of approaches used by recent artists. With a focus primarily on American artists after 1970, gifts and strategic purchases allow for expanding this area of the collection regularly. The McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum (MCCF), an affiliate membership group, supports annual acquisitions of contemporary art. The collection has strengths in several late twentieth-century art movements, representing Abstract Expressionist painting and sculpture, geometric abstraction and optical art, and assemblage and minimal sculpture. These unite with recent acquisitions of works based on the human figure, as well as photographic images and installation art.

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