We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz

October 1, 2020 - February 14, 2021

Featured Video

Virtual tour of We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz led by Jonathan Horowitz and Darsie Alexander, Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator. Video by SandenWolff.

This exhibition, organized by artist Jonathan Horowitz, brings together more than 70 voices, ranging from an 18th century portraitist to contemporary artists commissioned for this exhibition, to draw connections between historical oppression and the cultural and political challenges we confront in the world today.

Ben Shahn, We Fight For A Free World!, c. 1942, gouache and tempera on board. Artwork © Estate of Ben Shahn / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Image courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

Originally scheduled to open in March 2020, We Fight to Build a Free World is an exhibition curated by Jonathan Horowitz, a New York-based artist who for three decades has made work that engages critically with politics and culture. Under his direction, the exhibition looks at how artists have historically responded to the rise of authoritarianism and xenophobia as well as racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry. The exhibition also addresses issues surrounding immigration, assimilation, and cultural identity. 

Conceived from a starting point in 2017 of addressing the resurgence of anti-Semitism, this exhibition uses a broader lens to look at oppression and bigotry. The relevance of this exhibition has become more acute as the country reels from numerous incidents of police brutality towards people of color and a reckoning with the history of systemic racism. In the organization of this project, Jonathan Horowitz has acted as curator, researcher, activist, and artist.

The exhibition’s title, We Fight to Build a Free World, is adapted from a painting by Ben Shahn, which will be on view.  The installation juxtaposes diverse works, making thematic connections across time and place, raising questions and fostering dialogue.

Featuring more than 80 works of painting, sculpture, photography, and video, the exhibition includes examples of American social realism from the 1930s and 1940s and new works by Jonathan Horowitz, as well as 36 commissioned protest posters by contemporary artists, including Judith Bernstein, Marcel Dzama, Rico Gatson, Kim Gordon and Jason Smith, Cheyenne Julien, Christine Sun Kim, Guadalupe Maravilla, and Marilyn Minter. Also included are works by Asco, Huma Bhabha, Enrique Chagoya, Robert Colescott, Philip Evergood, Luis Jiménez, Rebecca Lepkoff, Glenn Ligon, Abraham Manievich, Bernard Perlin, Adrian Piper, Fritz Scholder, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Henry Sugimoto, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Max Weber, and Charles White, among others.


The exhibition is a project by artist Jonathan Horowitz, organized in consultation with Darsie Alexander, Susan & Elihu Rose Chief Curator, Shira Backer, Leon Levy Assistant Curator, and Ruth Beesch, Senior Deputy Director.
We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz is made possible by Toby Devan Lewis, the Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, and other generous donors. 
Additional support is provided through the Centennial Fund, the Peter Jay Sharp Fund, and the Barbara S. Horowitz Contemporary Art Fund.

Installation Views