Make It New

Poet Ezra Pound’s title for his collection of essays, Make It New, became a catchphrase for 20th-century advocates of modernism—a movement that, among many aspects, deemed representational expression obsolete in the industrialized world. Feeling liberated from imitating the natural world in their work, American modernists such as Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Elie Nadelman looked to Indigenous, global, and popular sources for inspiration as they devised new styles and techniques, setting the stage for a subsequent generation of experimentation and innovation by artists such as Louise Nevelson and Ruth Asawa. Early 20th-century artists also reinterpreted everyday subject matter through abstraction, with Cubism, one of the most influential stylistic movements of the first half of the 20th century, inspiring painters and sculptors to portray reality in novel ways.