E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society
June 25, 2011 to April 19, 2012

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. This Latin phrase—the motto on the Great Seal of the United States—declares that the country’s diverse citizenry is bound together in a greater whole for the good of all. The phrase states, in three simple words, the fundamental premise of American society.

Human beings have always congregated in groups unified by social systems. These systems stabilize authority; they also create and perpetuate common assumptions about social status and moral conduct. The values of a society are reflected, affirmed, and sometimes contested, in both written and visual formats.

E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society offers the perspectives of modern and contemporary American artists whose works ponder ethnicity, gender, race, class, and political belief. The various understandings of these artists bear witness to who we are as a society and demonstrate the hopefulness and complexities inherent in regarding the United States as a great “melting pot.” Artists represented in the exhibition include Diane Arbus, Warrington Colescott, Christo, John Steuart Curry, Juan Sanchez, and Andy Warhol; all works of art on view are drawn from the museum’s permanent collection.

E Pluribus Unum, which examines the nature of society, is the second in a series of three exhibitions in MMoCA’s Henry Street Gallery exploring major themes in modern and contemporary art. The first addressed the nature of individual identity; the third will consider the nature of reality.

Exhibitions in the Henry Street Gallery of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are generously funded through an endowment established by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. 


Saturday, July 9 · 11-11:30pm
Drop-in Tour 
Docent Joan Huedepohl will highlight examples of artists as engaged social commentators in works on view in E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society.