In this book, art historian Darby English explores the year 1971, when two exhibitions opened that brought modernist painting and sculpture into the burning heart of United States cultural politics: Contemporary Black Artists in America, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The DeLuxe Show, a racially integrated abstract art exhibition presented in a renovated movie theater in a Houston ghetto.
1971: A Year in the Life of Color looks at many black artists’ desire to gain freedom from overt racial representation, as well as their efforts—and those of their advocates—to further that aim through public exhibition. Amid calls to define a “black aesthetic,” these experiments with modernist art prioritized cultural interaction and instability. Contemporary Black Artists in America highlighted abstraction as a stance against normative approaches, while The DeLuxe Show positioned abstraction in a center of urban blight. The importance of these experiments, English argues, came partly from color’s special status as a cultural symbol and partly from investigations of color already under way in late modern art and criticism. With their supporters, black modernists—among them Peter Bradley, Frederick Eversley, Alvin Loving, Raymond Saunders, and Alma Thomas—rose above the demand to represent or be represented, compromising nothing in their appeals for interracial collaboration and, above all, responding with optimism rather than cynicism to the surrounding culture’s preoccupation with color.
Over fifty years have passed since Abstract Expressionism burst onto the New York City art scene, quickly attaining singular prominence as the first school in American painting to declare its independence from European styles. New assessments of its impact and importance continue to emerge. Yet, while much has been written about the movement’s broad range of stylistic diversity, its sociological and psychological dimensions, and its cultural significance in the United States, little attention has been paid to the interaction of its artists on the international scene. Abstract Expressionism: The International Context fills this gap by providing an in-depth exploration of this truly global art movement.
Bringing together fifteen original and path-breaking essays by world-class authorities on Abstract Expressionism as well as by younger scholars, this anthology looks beyond the canonical painters to explore the broader connections among abstract artists of the post–World War II era. Moving from the margins to the center, the essays recognize the contributions of artists working far beyond New York City. Topics include Jackson Pollock’s contact with Mexican muralists and the legacy of Abstract Expressionism for leftist artists in Latin America, the relevance of Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett as sources of philosophical thought, the significance of northern European CoBrA painters such as Asger Jorn, the impact of Japanese Gutai artists, and connections with the revolutionary art of Italy, Belgium, and France. Abstract Expressionism is also described as a model for contemporaneous developments in the former Soviet Union.
As the first book to consider the movement in relation to post–World War II abstraction on four continents, this book brings a fresh perspective to this widely studied school of painting. Scholars and students alike will find this anthology essential reading in creating a more complete and nuanced understanding of Abstract Expressionism.
A visually rich survey of two hundred years of Alabama fine arts and artists
Alabama artists have been an integral part of the story of the state, reflecting a wide-ranging and multihued sense of place through images of the land and its people. Quilts, pottery, visionary paintings, sculpture, photography, folk art, and abstract art have all contributed to diverse visions of Alabama’s culture and environment. The works of art included in this volume have all emerged from a distinctive milieu that has nourished the creation of powerful visual expressions, statements that are both universal and indigenous.
Published to coincide with the state’s bicentennial, Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists features ninety-four of Alabama’s most accomplished, noteworthy, and influential practitioners of the fine arts from 1819 to the present. The book highlights a broad spectrum of artists who worked in the state, from its early days to its current and contemporary scene, exhibiting the full scope and breadth of Alabama art.
This retrospective volume features biographical sketches and representative examples of each artist’s most masterful works. Alabamians like Gay Burke, William Christenberry, Roger Brown, Thornton Dial, Frank Fleming, the Gee’s Bend Quilters, Lonnie Holley, Dale Kennington, Charlie Lucas, Kerry James Marshall, David Parrish, and Bill Traylor are compared and considered with other nationally significant artists.
Alabama Creates is divided into four historical periods, each spanning roughly fifty years and introduced by editor Elliot A. Knight. Knight contextualizes each era with information about the development of Alabama art museums and institutions and the evolution of college and university art departments. The book also contains an overview of the state’s artistic heritage by Gail C. Andrews, director emerita of the Birmingham Museum of Art. Alabama Creates conveys in a sweeping and captivating way the depth of talent, the range of creativity, and the lasting contributions these artists have made to Alabama’s extraordinarily rich visual and artistic heritage.
Art for art's sake. Art created in pursuit of personal expression. In Art in an Age of Counterrevolution, Albert Boime rejects these popular modern notions and suggests that history—not internal drive or expressive urge—as the dynamic force that shapes art.
This volume focuses on the astonishing range of art forms currently understood to fall within the broad category of Romanticism. Drawing on visual media and popular imagery of the time, this generously illustrated work examines the art of Romanticism as a reaction to the social and political events surrounding it. Boime reinterprets canonical works by such politicized artists as Goya, Delacroix, Géricault, Friedrich, and Turner, framing their work not by personality but by its sociohistorical context. Boime's capacious approach and scope allows him to incorporate a wide range of perspectives into his analysis of Romantic art, including Marxism, social history, gender identity, ecology, structuralism, and psychoanalytic theory, a reach that parallels the work of contemporary cultural historians and theorists such as Edward Said, Pierre Bourdieu, Eric Hobsbawm, Frederic Jameson, and T. J. Clark.
Boime ultimately establishes that art serves the interests and aspirations of the cultural bourgeoisie. In grounding his arguments on their work and its scope and influence, he elucidates how all artists are inextricably linked to history. This book will be used widely in art history courses and exert enormous influence on cultural studies as well.
More than any other decade, the sixties capture our collective cultural imagination. And while many Americans can immediately imagine the sound of Martin Luther King Jr. declaring “I have a dream!” or envision hippies placing flowers in gun barrels, the revolutionary sixties resonates around the world: China’s communist government inaugurated a new cultural era, African nations won independence from colonial rule, and students across Europe took to the streets, calling for an end to capitalism, imperialism, and the Vietnam War.
In this innovative work, James Meyer turns to art criticism, theory, memoir, and fiction to examine the fascination with the long sixties and contemporary expressions of these cultural memories across the globe. Meyer draws on a diverse range of cultural objects that reimagine this revolutionary era stretching from the 1950s to the 1970s, including reenactments of civil rights, antiwar, and feminist marches, paintings, sculptures, photographs, novels, and films. Many of these works were created by artists and writers born during the long Sixties who were driven to understand a monumental era that they missed. These cases show us that the past becomes significant only in relation to our present, and our remembered history never perfectly replicates time past. This, Meyer argues, is precisely what makes our contemporary attachment to the past so important: it provides us a critical opportunity to examine our own relationship to history, memory, and nostalgia.
"As a stylist, in his descriptions of art and movements and books, Rosenberg has no equal. . . . One is grateful for [this] essay collection. To my mind, his piece on art criticism and the distinction between it and art history is alone worth the price of the book."—Corinne Robins, New York Times Book Review
What was the place of the artist in a new society? How would he thrive where monarchy, aristocracy, and an established church—those traditional patrons of painting, sculpture, and architecture—were repudiated so vigorously? Neil Harris examines the relationships between American cultural values and American society during the formative years of American art and explores how conceptions of the artist's social role changed during those years.
The term Neo-Dada surfaced in New York in the late 1950s and was used to characterize young artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns whose art appeared at odds with the serious emotional and painterly interests of the then-dominant movement, Abstract Expressionism. Neo-Dada quickly became the word of choice in the early 1960s to designate experimental art, including assemblage, performance, Pop art, and nascent forms of minimal and conceptual art.
An Audience of Artists turns this time line for the postwar New York art world on its head, presenting a new pedigree for these artistic movements. Drawing on an array of previously unpublished material, Catherine A. Craft reveals that Neo-Dada, far from being a reaction to Abstract Expressionism, actually originated at the heart of that movement’s concerns about viewers, originality, and artists’ debts to the past and one another. Furthermore, she argues, the original Dada movement was not incompatible with Abstract Expressionism. In fact, Dada provided a vital historical reference for artists and critics seeking to come to terms with the radical departure from tradition that Abstract Expressionism seemed to represent. Tracing the activities of artists such as Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Jackson Pollock alongside Marcel Duchamp’s renewed embrace of Dada in the late 1940s, Craft composes a subtle exploration of the challenges facing artists trying to work in the wake of a destructive world war and the paintings, objects, writings, and installations that resulted from their efforts.
Providing the first examination of the roots of the Neo-Dada phenomenon, this groundbreaking study significantly reassesses the histories of these three movements and offers new ways of understanding the broader issues related to the development of modern art.
Bertolt Brecht once worried that our sympathy for the victims of a social problem can make the problem’s “beauty and attraction” invisible. In The Beauty of a Social Problem, Walter Benn Michaels explores the effort to overcome this difficulty through a study of several contemporary artist-photographers whose work speaks to questions of political economy.
Although he discusses well-known figures like Walker Evans and Jeff Wall, Michaels’s focus is on a group of younger artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Liz Deschenes, and Arthur Ou. All born after 1965, they have always lived in a world where, on the one hand, artistic ambition has been synonymous with the critique of autonomous form and intentional meaning, while, on the other, the struggle between capital and labor has essentially been won by capital. Contending that the aesthetic and political conditions are connected, Michaels argues that these artists’ new commitment to form and meaning is a way for them to depict the conditions that have taken US economic inequality from its lowest level, in 1968, to its highest level today. As Michaels demonstrates, these works of art, unimaginable without the postmodern critique of autonomy and intentionality, end up departing and dissenting from that critique in continually interesting and innovative ways.
In the decades preceding the Stonewall riots—in the wake of the 1948 publication of Alfred Kinsey’s controversial report on male sexuality and in the midst of a cold war culture of suspicion and paranoia—discussions of homosexuality within the New York art world necessarily circulated via gossip and rumor. Between You and Me explores this informal, everyday talk and how it shaped artists’ lives, their work, and its reception. Revealing the “trivial” and “unserious” aspects of the postwar art scene as key to understanding queer subjectivity, Gavin Butt argues for a richer, more expansive concept of historical evidence, one that supplements the verifiable facts of traditional historical narrative with the gossipy fictions of sexual curiosity.
Focusing on the period from 1948 to 1963, Butt draws on the accusations and denials of homosexuality that appeared in the popular press, on early homophile publications such as One and the Mattachine Review, and on biographies, autobiographies, and interviews. In a stunning exposition of Larry Rivers’s work, he shows how Rivers incorporated gossip into his paintings, just as his friend and lover Frank O’Hara worked it into his poetry. He describes how the stories about Andy Warhol being too “swish” to be taken seriously as an artist changed following his breakthrough success, reconstructing him as an asexual dandy. Butt also speculates on the meanings surrounding a MoMA curator’s refusal in 1958 to buy Jasper Johns’s Target with Plaster Casts on the grounds that it was too scandalous for the museum to acquire. Between You and Me sheds new light on a pivotal moment in American cultural production as it signals new directions for art history.
Child of the Fire is the first book-length examination of the career of the nineteenth-century artist Mary Edmonia Lewis, best known for her sculptures inspired by historical and biblical themes. Throughout this richly illustrated study, Kirsten Pai Buick investigates how Lewis and her work were perceived, and their meanings manipulated, by others and the sculptor herself. She argues against the racialist art discourse that has long cast Lewis’s sculptures as reflections of her identity as an African American and Native American woman who lived most of her life abroad. Instead, by seeking to reveal Lewis’s intentions through analyses of her career and artwork, Buick illuminates Lewis’s fraught but active participation in the creation of a distinct “American” national art, one dominated by themes of indigeneity, sentimentality, gender, and race. In so doing, she shows that the sculptor variously complicated and facilitated the dominant ideologies of the vanishing American (the notion that Native Americans were a dying race), sentimentality, and true womanhood.
Buick considers the institutions and people that supported Lewis’s career—including Oberlin College, abolitionists in Boston, and American expatriates in Italy—and she explores how their agendas affected the way they perceived and described the artist. Analyzing four of Lewis’s most popular sculptures, each created between 1866 and 1876, Buick discusses interpretations of Hiawatha in terms of the cultural impact of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha; Forever Free and Hagar in the Wilderness in light of art historians’ assumptions that artworks created by African American artists necessarily reflect African American themes; and The Death of Cleopatra in relation to broader problems of reading art as a reflection of identity.
Edited by François Brunet Terra Foundation for American Art, 2017 Library of Congress N72.S6C54 2017 | Dewey Decimal 701.03
As a category in art history, circulation is rooted in the contemporary context of Internet culture and the digital image. Yet circulation, as a broader concept for the movement of art across time and space in vastly different cultural and media contexts, has been a factor in the history of the arts in the United States since at least the eighteenth century.
The third volume in the Terra Foundation Essays series, Circulation brings together an international and interdisciplinary team of scholars, including Thierry Gervais, Tom Gunning, J. M. Mancini, Frank Mehring, and Hélène Valance, who map the multiple planes where artistic meaning has been produced by the circulation of art from the eighteenth century to the present. The book looks at both broad historical trends and the successes and failures of particular works of art from a wide variety of artists and styles. Together, the contributions significantly expand the conceptual and methodological terrain of scholarship on American art.
The Reverend Howard Finster was twenty feet tall, suspended in darkness. Or so he appeared in the documentary film that introduced a teenaged Greg Bottoms to the renowned outsider artist whose death would help inspire him, fourteen years later, to travel the country. Beginning in Georgia with a trip to Finster’s famous Paradise Gardens, his journey—of which The Colorful Apocalypse is a masterly chronicle—is an unparalleled look into the lives and visionary works of some of Finster’s contemporaries: the self-taught evangelical artists whose beliefs and oeuvres occupy the gray area between madness and Christian ecstasy.
With his prodigious gift for conversation and quietly observant storytelling, Bottoms draws us into the worlds of such figures as William Thomas Thompson, a handicapped ex-millionaire who painted a 300-foot version of the book of Revelation; Norbert Kox, an ex-member of the Outlaws biker gang who now lives as a recluse in rural Wisconsin and paints apocalyptic visual parables; and Myrtice West, who began painting to express the revelatory visions she had after her daughter was brutally murdered. These artists’ works are as wildly varied as their life stories, but without sensationalizing or patronizing them, Bottoms—one of today’s finest young writers—gets at the heart of what they have in common: the struggle to make sense, through art, of their difficult personal histories.
In doing so, he weaves a true narrative as powerful as the art of its subjects, a work that is at once an enthralling travelogue, a series of revealing biographical portraits, and a profound meditation on the chaos of despair and the ways in which creativity can help order our lives.
From ballet to burlesque, from the frontier jig to the jitterbug, Americans have always loved watching dance, whether in grand ballrooms, on Mississippi riverboats, or in the streets. Dance and American Art is an innovative look at the elusive, evocative nature of dance and the American visual artists who captured it through their paintings, sculpture, photography, and prints from the early nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. The scores of artists discussed include many icons of American art: Winslow Homer, George Caleb Bingham, Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Edward Steichen, David Smith, and others.
As a subject for visual artists, dance has given new meaning to America’s perennial myths, cherished identities, and most powerful dreams. Their portrayals of dance and dancers, from the anonymous to the famous—Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, Josephine Baker, Martha Graham—have testified to the enduring importance of spatial organization, physical pattern, and rhythmic motion in creating aesthetic form.
Through extensive research, sparkling prose, and beautiful color reproductions, art historian Sharyn R. Udall draws attention to the ways that artists’ portrayals of dance have defined the visual character of the modern world and have embodied culturally specific ideas about order and meaning, about the human body, and about the diverse fusions that comprise American culture.
A Decade of Negative Thinking brings together writings on contemporary art and culture by the painter and feminist art theorist Mira Schor. Mixing theory and practice, the personal and the political, she tackles questions about the place of feminism in art and political discourse, the aesthetics and values of contemporary painting, and the influence of the market on the creation of art. Schor writes across disciplines and is committed to the fluid interrelationship between a formalist aesthetic, a literary sensibility, and a strongly political viewpoint. Her critical views are expressed with poetry and humor in the accessible language that has been her hallmark, and her perspective is informed by her dual practice as a painter and writer and by her experience as a teacher of art.
In essays such as “The ism that dare not speak its name,” “Generation 2.5,” “Like a Veneer,” “Modest Painting,” “Blurring Richter,” and “Trite Tropes, Clichés, or the Persistence of Styles,” Schor considers how artists relate to and represent the past and how the art market influences their choices: whether or not to disavow a social movement, to explicitly compare their work to that of a canonical artist, or to take up an exhausted style. She places her writings in the rich transitory space between the near past and the “nextmodern.” Witty, brave, rigorous, and heartfelt, Schor’s essays are impassioned reflections on art, politics, and criticism.
The De-Definition of Art
Harold Rosenberg University of Chicago Press, 1983 Library of Congress N6512.R675 1983 | Dewey Decimal 709.73
"Like the great German critic Walter Benjamin, Rosenberg is a master of dialectics whose sense of art is continuous with his sense of society, and (also like Benjamin) bears no taint of compromised, out-of-work radicalism. Instead, his radicalism is very much at work, enabling him to spot and skewer fallacies, false logic and the camouflaged nudity that is a large part of the art emperor's new wardrobe. [The De-definition of Art] detects with great sensitivity the forces that are deflecting and pressuring art in the direction of esthetic and moral nullity."—Jack Kroll, Newsweek
Early Art and Artists in West Virginia is copiously illustrated with 136 plates accompanying the essays on portraiture and landscape painting, which form the first half of the book. A similar number of smaller illustrations in full color bring life to a biographical directory in the second part of the book, which contains nearly one thousand known painters who worked in West Virginia. Many West Virginians will find their family names in this directory, and some will doubtless locate the information here that they have long sought in order to learn more about a painting in their family's possession. The book is supported by an extensive bibliography on the state's artistic heritage and a full index to both the directory and the essays.
Edited by Alexander Nemerov Terra Foundation for American Art, 2017 Library of Congress N6505.E87 2017 | Dewey Decimal 709.73
In his noteworthy theoretical essay “Experience,” Ralph Waldo Emerson writes that humans by nature cannot fully grasp life as lived. If this is so, how capable are we of expressing our experiences in works of art? Despite this formidable challenge, for the past thirty years, scholarship in American art has assumed that works of art are coded and has analyzed them accordingly, often with constructive results.
The fourth volume in the Terra Foundation Essays series, Experience considers the possibility of immediacy, or the idea that we can directly relate to the past by way of an artifact or work of art. Without discounting the matrix of codes involved in both the production and reception of art, contributors to Experience emphasize the sensibility of the interpreter; the techniques of art historical writing, including its affinity with fiction and its powers of description; the emotional charge—the punctum—that certain representations can deliver. These and other topics are examined through seven essays, addressing different periods in American art.
A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.
The Fine Arts in America
Joshua C. Taylor University of Chicago Press, 1979 Library of Congress N6505.T373 | Dewey Decimal 709.73
"Though comparatively short, it is no once-over-lightly chronicle full of insignificant names and dates. It brilliantly achieves its principal aim: to provide readers with a compact but broad and well rounded conception of the progress of the fine arts in America from ca. 1670 to the present day. . . . It is a fascinating book, full of new vistas; it has all the earmarks of an instant classic."—American Artist
"[Taylor] describes changing definitions of art as much as he describes art itself, and he shows how the shifting forms of patronage affected the forms of art. He analyzes artists' associations . . . and he shows how museums and schools have expanded the audience for art. In short, he places artists and their work in cultural context. This treatment of the social history of art is the most original and intriguing aspect of Taylor's sketch."—Journal of American History
"This is a brilliantly subtle book. It builds with one insight after another, and suddenly the reader finds that a whole new way of looking at American art is being proposed. . . . After decades of thinking and looking and teaching, Dr. Taylor has written it all down. This work will become a classic interpretation almost overnight."—Peter Marzio, director, Corcoran Gallery of Art
"Interest in American art is unlikely to abate. . . . Mr. Taylor's short book is an invaluable guide through this activity and to its traditions."—Neil Harris, Wall Street Journal
A lavishly illustrated overview of the life and work of realist painter Dale Kennington, featuring more than eighty-five of her most renowned works.
Grandeur of the Everyday is the first full-length volume dedicated to the life and work of Dale Kennington—an accomplished master of contemporary American realism. Kennington’s works often hold a strange familiarity, even for those coming to her work for the first time. Her paintings are at once familiar and yet defy specificity of place, clear and lucid while also dense in content. These effects derive from her unique ability to capture the essence of everyday living, the ordinary “in between” moments we often overlook in our day-to-day habits and transactions.
Kennington referred to her paintings as “merged memories.” Combining elements of photography, memory, and imagination, Kennington’s art is an entrancing blend of contemporary and magical realism, with themes ranging from loneliness to community and culture, from class and race relations to the juxtaposition of private and public life. Rather than study the spectacular, she concentrated on commonplace moments of human interaction, inviting observers of her paintings to ponder their significance and to complete their implicit narratives. Often relying on local subjects for her paintings—barbershops, bars, restaurants, gospel concerts, motel rooms, nursing homes—she presented a diversity of local experience.
Grandeur of the Everyday is a treasure trove of her most accomplished creations and includes more than eighty-five examples of both Kennington’s easel paintings on canvas and her freestanding wooden folding screens. The volume also offers an original interview with the artist conducted by Kristen Miller Zohn, an introduction by art historian Daniel White, and a critical essay by the director of the Wiregrass Museum of Art, Rebecca Brantley.
Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North
Peter John Brownlee, Sarah Burns, Diane Dillon, Daniel Greene, and Scott Manning Stevens University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress N6510.H57 2013 | Dewey Decimal 704.9499737
More than one hundred and fifty years after Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, the Civil War still occupies a prominent place in the national collective memory. Paintings and photographs, plays and movies, novels, poetry, and songs portray the war as a battle over the future of slavery, often focusing on Lincoln’s determination to save the Union, or highlighting the brutality of brother fighting brother. Battles and battlefields occupy us, too: Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg all conjure up images of desolate landscapes strewn with war dead. Yet the frontlines were not the only landscapes of the war. Countless civilians saw their daily lives upended while the entire nation suffered.
Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North reveals this side of the war as it happened, comprehensively examining the visual culture of the Northern home front. Through contributions from leading scholars from across the humanities, we discover how the war influenced household economies and the cotton economy; how the absence of young men from the home changed daily life; how war relief work linked home fronts and battle fronts; why Indians on the frontier were pushed out of the riven nation’s consciousness during the war years; and how wartime landscape paintings illuminated the nation’s past, present, and future.
A companion volume to a collaborative exhibition organized by the Newberry Library and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Home Front is the first book to expose the visual culture of a world far removed from the horror of war yet intimately bound to it.
Calling attention to the local cultural scene as well as to events taking place in Europe, Matthew Baigell considers the art produced by Jewish artists who were inspired to respond to the murders of their fellow Jews during World War II.
Although there were only a few instances of visual documentation of events until the war’s later stages, responses to news reports and the very few authentic images received of the atrocities of the Holocaust varied from avoidance and denial to scattered attempts to create direct visual representations. Those artists who chose the latter alternative did so with little support from the Jewish intelligentsia of New York City. Art critics such as the influential Clement Greenberg purposely avoided addressing this issue at all. Jewish artists were left to cope with the events of the war in isolation, without a collective visual memory to deal with the traumas presented by news reports.
Baigell discusses how the limited access to images, information, and support during the war led to a unique artistic response created not only by the conflict itself, but also by the anti-Semitic social climate of the United States. Surveys taken in the U.S. between 1940 and 1946 demonstrate that the general population considered Jews a greater menace to the welfare of the country than the Germans or the Japanese.
Artists featured include Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Barnett Newman, Abraham Rattner, Mark Rothko, and Max Weber.
Jewish themes in American art were not very visible until the last two decades, although many famous twentieth-century artists and critics were and are Jewish. Few artists responded openly to the Holocaust until the 1960s, when it finally began to act as a galvanizing force, allowing Jewish-American artists to express their Jewish identity in their work. Baigell describes how artists initially deflected their responses into abstract forms or by invoking biblical and traditional figures and then in more recent decades confronted directly Holocaust imagery and memory. He traces the development of artistic work from the late 1930s to the present in a moving study of a long overlooked topic in the history of American art.
A landmark collection of essays on the intersections of visual art, cultural studies, and environmental history in America.
Issues of ecology--both as they appear in the works of nature writers and in the works of literary writers for whom place and the land are central issues--have long been of interest to literary critics, and have given rise over the last two decades to the now firmly established field of ecocriticism. The essays in this volume, written by art historians and literary critics, seek to bring the study of American art into the expanding discourse of ecocriticism.
A Keener Perception offers a series of case studies on topics ranging from John White's watercolors of the Carolina landscape executed during Sir Walter Raleigh's 1585 Roanoke expedition to photographs by environmental activist Eliot Porter. Rather than merely resurrect past instances of ecologically attuned art, this volume features essays that resituate many canonical figures, such as Thomas Eakins, Aaron Douglas, and Thomas Cole, in an ecocritical light by which they have yet to be viewed. Studying such artists and artworks through an ecocritical lens not only provides a better understanding of these works and the American landscape, but also brings a new interpretive paradigm to the field of art history--a field that many of these critics believe would do well to embrace environmental concerns as a vital area of research.
In highlighting the work of scholars who bring ecological agendas to their study of American art, as well as providing models for literary scholars who might like to better incorporate the visual arts into their own scholarship and teaching, A Keener Perception is truly a landmark collection--timely, consequential, and controversial.
Pioneers moving into Iowa in the nineteenth century created a distinctly rural culture: family, farm, church, and school were its dominant institutions. After decades of settlement, however, several lively and perceptive generations interpreted their political, economic, and cultural environment—their Iowa—much more imaginatively; they offered such abundant insight, understanding, meaning, and mission that they mentally and spiritually recreates Iowa. In Kinship with the Land historian Brad Burns celebrates this intense period of intellectual and cultural development.
Through their novels, short stories, poems, essays, drawings, and paintings, Iowa's regionalists expressed a rich abstraction of people and place. They conferred meaning, imparted understanding, defined the soil and the folk, conveyed a sense of place. Grant Wood in his overalls—the quintessential symbol of sophisticated talent and rural values—clearly represented regionalism's spiritual solidarity with the land and the people who worked it. Burns lets these Iowans speak for themselves, then interprets their distinctive voices to present a cogent case for and an understanding of the rural in an overwhelming urban America.
Kinship with the Land emphasizes the importance of Iowa's intellectual and cultural history and reaffirms the state's identity at the very moment that standardization threatened to eradicate it. By endowing Iowa with vibrant, independent art and literature, regionalists made refreshing sense of their environment. Readers from every state will appreciate their generous legacy.
Recent years have seen an enormous surge of interest in fiber arts, with works made of thread on display in art museums around the world. But this art form only began to transcend its origins as a humble craft in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that artists used the fiber arts to build critical practices that challenged the definitions of painting, drawing, and sculpture. One of those artists was Lenore Tawney (1907–2007).
Raised and trained in Chicago before she moved to New York, Tawney had a storied career. She was known for employing an ancient Peruvian gauze weave technique to create a painterly effect that appeared to float in space rather than cling to the wall, as well as for being one of the first artists to blend sculptural techniques with weaving practices and, in the process, pioneered a new direction in fiber art. Despite her prominence on the New York art scene, however, she has only recently begun to receive her due from the greater art world. Accompanying a retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, this catalog features a comprehensive biography of Tawney, additional essays on her work, and two hundred full-color illustrations, making it of interest to contemporary artists, art historians, and the growing audience for fiber art.
Robin Veder’s The Living Line is a radical reconceptualization of the development of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American modernism. The author illuminates connections among the histories of modern art, body cultures, and physiological aesthetics in early-twentieth-century American culture, fundamentally altering our perceptions about art and the physical, and the degree of cross-pollination in the arts. The Living Line shows that American producers and consumers of modernist visual art repeatedly characterized their aesthetic experience in terms of kinesthesia, the sense of bodily movement. They explored abstraction with kinesthetic sensibilities and used abstraction to achieve kinesthetic goals. In fact, the formalist approach to art was galvanized by theories of bodily response derived from experimental physiological psychology and facilitated by contemporary body cultures such as modern dance, rhythmic gymnastics, physical education, and physical therapy. Situating these complementary ideas and exercises in relation to enduring fears of neurasthenia, Veder contends that aesthetic modernism shared industrial modernity’s objective of efficiently managing neuromuscular energy. In a series of finely grained and interconnected case studies, Veder demonstrates that diverse modernists associated with the Armory Show, the Société Anonyme, the Stieglitz circle (especially O’Keeffe), and the Barnes Foundation participated in these discourses and practices and that “kin-aesthetic modernism” greatly influenced the formation of modern art in America and beyond. This daring and completely original work will appeal to a broad audience of art historians, historians of the body, and American culture in general.
Taking a fresh look at the art world of the 1960s, Caroline Jones argues that far from the countercultural stance associated with the decade, the artists she examines—including Stella, Warhol, and Smithson—identified their work with postwar industry and corporate culture. Drawing on extensive interviews with artists and their assistants as well as close readings of artworks, Jones explains that much of the major work of the 1960s was compelling precisely because it was central to the visual and economic culture of its time.
"Jones manages to analyze art works in their historical, political, and conceptual context, giving them a thickness of description rarely possible in standard art history. . . . This is one of the best books on the period I have read so far. To paraphrase Clement Greenberg, it gives contemporary art history a good name."—Serge Guilbaut, Bookforum
"Though we are some 30 years past the events of the '60s, our world is still largely responding to them, as this marvelous book amply demonstrates."—David McCarthy, New Art Examiner
In this ambitious book, Terry Smith chronicles the modernist revolution in American art and design between the world wars—from its origins in the new industrial age of mass production, automation, and corporate culture to its powerful and transforming effects on the way Americans came to see themselves and their world. From Ford Motor's first assembly line in 1913 to the New York World's Fair of 1939, Smith traces the evolution of visual imagery in the first half of America's century of progress.
M/E/A/N/I/N/G brings together essays and commentary by over a hundred artists, critics, and poets, culled from the art magazine of the same name. The editors—artists Susan Bee and Mira Schor—have selected the liveliest and most provocative pieces from the maverick magazine that bucked commercial gallery interests and media hype during its ten-year tenure (1986–96) to explore visual pleasure with a culturally activist edge. With its emphasis on artists’ perspectives of aesthetic and social issues, this anthology provides a unique opportunity to enter into the fray of the most hotly contested art issues of the past few decades: the visibility of women artists, sexuality and the arts, censorship, art world racism, the legacies of modernism, artists as mothers, visual art in the digital age, and the rewards and toils of a lifelong career in art. The stellar cast of contributing artists and art writers includes Nancy Spero, Richard Tuttle, David Humphrey, Thomas McEvilley, Laura Cottingham, Johanna Drucker, David Reed, Carolee Schneemann, Whitney Chadwick, Robert Storr, Leon Golub, Charles Bernstein, and Alison Knowles. This compelling and theoretically savvy collection will be of interest to artists, art historians, critics, and a general audience interested in the views of practicing artists.
Relations between Jewish Americans and African Americans have always had a unique, complex character. Both groups have long been considered outsiders in mainstream American society, sharing a history in which both their physical appearance and moral attributes were denigrated. African Americans have drawn parallels between their situation in the United States and the Jews' struggles for freedom when they were slaves in Egypt. Jewish Americans have often become involved in the black cause through their interest in social issues and association with liberal politics.
Mutual Reflections is the first book to examine this many-layered relationship through its visual dimension. Milly Heyd investigates how artists of both backgrounds have viewed each other during the last hundred years-how the visual languages and the-matic choices of their art have reflected changing concerns from symbiosis to disillusionment. She explores a wide range of artistic mediums: painting, sculpture, cartoons, comic strips, and installations. Interviews with artists provide additional insight. The post modern discourse poses questions problematizing ethnic and racial stereotyping.
As Heyd states, when an artist of one group investigates the other group, that person is embarking on a journey of self-discovery. And while that journey can lead to disillusionment and criticism, the artist's vision-and final work of art-very often can help put all of us on our own paths of self-discovery.
New Deal Art in Arizona
Betsy Fahlman University of Arizona Press, 2009 Library of Congress N6530.A6F34 2009 | Dewey Decimal 709.79109043
Arizona’s art history is emblematic of the story of the modern West, and few periods in that history were more significant than the era of the New Deal. From Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams to painters and muralists including Native American Gerald Nailor, the artists working in Arizona under New Deal programs were a notable group whose art served a distinctly public purpose. Their photography, paintings, and sculptures remain significant exemplars of federal art patronage and offer telling lessons positioned at the intersection of community history and culture.
Art is a powerful instrument of historical record and cultural construction, and many of the issues captured by the Farm Security Administration photographers remain significant issues today: migratory labor, the economic volatility of the mining industry, tourism, and water usage. Art tells important stories, too, including the work of Japanese American photographer Toyo Miyatake in Arizona’s internment camps, murals by Native American artist Gerald Nailor for the Navajo Nation Council Chamber in Window Rock, and African American themes at Fort Huachuca. Illustrated with 100 black-andwhite photographs and covering a wide range of both media and themes, this fascinating and accessible volume reclaims a richly textured story of Arizona history with potent lessons for today.
"The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910-1940 brings together the history and the critical reaction to the new developments in art and design, places them in the context of conservative yet innovative Chicago at the turn of the century, and explores the tensions between tradition and innovation. The individual essays present the best in specialized current research, yet one can clearly understand the impact of modernism on the broader intellectual and cultural life of the city. I eagerly await as cohesive and thorough an analysis of the subject for New York."—David Sokol, University of Chicago
"This is fresh and fascinating research about the ups and downs of modernism in Chicago, a city where art students reportedly once hung Matisse in effigy. Regional studies like this one broaden our understanding of how the art world has worked outside of New York and gives depth to a story we know too narrowly. Applause all the way around."—Wanda M. Corn, Stanford University
For more than two decades, the artist Renée Green has created an impressive body of work in which language is an essential element. Green is also a prolific writer and a major voice in the international art world. Other Planes of There gathers for the first time a substantial collection of the work she wrote between 1981 and 2010. The selected essays initially appeared in publications in different countries and languages, making their availability in this volume a boon to those wanting to follow Green's artistic and intellectual trajectory.
Charting this cosmopolitan artist’s thinking through the decades, Other Planes of There brings essays, film scripts, reviews, and polemics together with reflections on Green's own artistic practice and seminal artworks. It immerses the reader in three decades of contemporary art showcasing the art and thought, the incisive critiques and prescient observations of one of our foremost artists and intellectuals. Sound, cinema, literature, time-based media, and the relationship between art forms and other forms of knowledge are just a few of the matters that Green takes up and thinks through. Sixty-four pages of color plates were selected by the artist for this lavishly illustrated volume.
Since the last century, the relationship between vanguard and self-taught artists has been defined by contradiction. The established art world has been quick to make clear distinctions between trained and untrained artists, yet at the same time it has been fascinated by outliers whom it draws selectively and intermittently into its orbits. For a new exhibition launching at the National Gallery of Art, curator Lynne Cooke explores shifting conceptualizations of the American outlier across the twentieth century, drawing on the inherent sociality of the exhibition in her installation of these works. This companion catalog, Outliers and American Vanguard Art, offers a fantastic opportunity to consider works by schooled and self-taught creators in relation to each other and defined by historical circumstance.
The art works in Outliers and American Vanguard Art come from three distinct periods when the intersections between mainstream and outlier artists were most dynamic and productive, ushering in exhibitions of art based on various degrees of co-existence, inclusion, and assimilation. Works by such diverse artists as Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, and Matt Mullican are set in conversation with a range of works by such self-taught artists as Horace Pippin, Janet Sobel, and Henry Darger. Cooke also examines a recent increase of radically expressive work that challenges what it means to be an outlier today. She reveals how these distinctions have been freighted with a particularly American point of view as she investigates our assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture.
Outliers and American Vanguard Art is the most comprehensive show ever to examine outliers in dialogue with their established peers. It is sure to inspire vigorous conversation about how artists and the work they make are represented.
Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, and Raymond Pettibon—these Southern California artists formed a “bad boy” trifecta. Early purveyors of abject art, the trio produced work ranging from sculptures of feces to copulating stuffed animals, and gained notoriety from being perverse. Showing how their work rethinks transgressive art practices in the wake of the 1960s, Pay for Your Pleasures argues that their collaborations as well as their individual enterprises make them among the most compelling artists in the Los Angeles area in recent years.
Cary Levine focuses on Kelley’s, McCarthy’s, and Pettibon’s work from the 1970s through the 1990s, plotting the circuitous routes they took in their artistic development. Drawing on extensive interviews with each artist, he identifies the diverse forces that had a crucial bearing on their development—such as McCarthy’s experiences at the University of Utah, Kelley’s interest in the Detroit-based White Panther movement, Pettibon’s study of economics, and how all three participated in burgeoning subcultural music scenes. Levine discovers a common political strategy underlying their art that critiques both nostalgia for the 1960s counterculture and Reagan-era conservatism. He shows how this strategy led each artist to create strange and unseemly images that test the limits of not only art but also gender roles, sex, acceptable behavior, poor taste, and even the gag reflex that separates pleasure from disgust. As a result, their work places viewers in uncomfortable situations that challenge them to reassess their own values.
The first substantial analysis of Kelley, McCarthy, and Pettibon, Pay for Your Pleasures shines new light on three artists whose work continues to resonate in the world of art and politics.
Edited by Rachael Z. DeLue Terra Foundation for American Art, 2016 Library of Congress N6505.P53 2016 | Dewey Decimal 709.73
The history of American art is a history of objects, but it is also a history of ideas about how we create and consume these objects. As Picturing convincingly shows, the critical tradition in American art has given rise to profound thinking about the nature and capacity of images and formed responses to some of most pressing problems of picturing: What is an image, and why make one? What do images do?
The first volume in a new series on critical concerns in the history of American art, Picturing brings together essays by a distinguished international group of scholars who discuss the creation and consumption of images from the early modern period through the end of the twentieth century. Some of the contributions focus on art critical texts, like Gertrude Stein’s portrait of Cézanne, while others have as their point of departure particular artworks, from a portrait of Benjamin Franklin to Eadweard Muybridge’s nineteenth-century photographs of the California Coast. Works that addressed images and image making were not confined to the academy; they spilled out into poetry, literature, theater, and philosophy, and the essays’ considerations likewise range freely, from painting to natural history illustrations, travel narratives, and popular fiction. Together, the contributions demonstrate a rich deliberation that thoroughly debunks the notion that American art is merely derivative of a European tradition.
With a wealth of new research and full-color illustrations, Picturing significantly expands the terrain of scholarship on American art.
Since its founding in 1898, the Art Commission of the City of New York (ACNY) has served as the city’s aesthetic gatekeeper, evaluating all works of art intended for display on city property. And over the years, the commission’s domain has expanded dramatically to include everything from parks and courthouses to trash cans and sidewalks. In ThePolitics of Urban Beauty, Michele H. Bogart argues that this unprecedented authority has made the commission host to some complex negotiations—involving artists, architects, business leaders, activists, and politicians—about not only the role of art in urban design, but also the shape and meaning of the city and its public spaces.
A former vice president of the ACNY, Bogart tells its story here from an insider’s perspective, tracing the commission’s history from its origins as an outgrowth of progressive reform to its role in New York’s reconstruction after 9/11. Drawing on archival correspondence, drawings, and photographs from commission collections, Bogart presents bracing examples of works—ranging from New Deal murals to Louis Kahn’s unbuilt Memorial to Six Million Jewish Martyrs—that illuminate the ACNY’s subtle yet powerful role in shaping New York’s identity.
The Politics of Urban Beauty is thus a fascinating history of a New York art world that paralleled—and sometimes unpredictably intersected with—the more familiar realm of prominent architects, painters, galleries, and museums. Bogart’s fresh view adds a critical dimension to our understanding of “the city beautiful” and makes an important and lively contribution to the study of art history, urban design, and New York City itself.
Pope.L: Showing Up to Withhold
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress NX512.P668A4 2014 | Dewey Decimal 700.92
Iconoclast and artist Pope.L uses the body, sex, and race as his materials the way other artists might use paint, clay, or bronze. His work problematizes social categories by exploring how difference is marked economically, socially, and politically. Working in a range of media from ketchup to baloney to correction fluid, with a special emphasis on performativity and writing, Pope.L pokes fun at and interrogates American society’s pretenses, the bankruptcy of contemporary mores, and the resulting repercussions for a civil society. Other favorite Pope.L targets are squeamishness about the human body and the very possibility of making meaning through art and its display.
Published to accompany his wonderfully inscrutable exhibition Forlesen at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Pope.L: Showing Up to Withhold is simultaneously an artist’s book and a monograph. In addition to reproductions of a number of his most recent artworks, it includes images of significant works from the past decade, and presents a forum for reflection and analysis on art making today with contributions by renowned critics and scholars, including Lawrie Balfour, Nick Bastis, Lauren Berlant, and K. Silem Mohammad.
“We got to talking”—so David Antin begins the introduction to Radical Coherency, embarking on the pursuit that has marked much of his breathless, brilliantly conversational work. For the past forty years, whether spoken under the guise of performance artist or poet, cultural explorer or literary critic, Antin’s innovative observations have helped us to better understand everything from Pop to Postmodernism.
Intimately wedded to the worlds of conceptual art and poetics, Radical Coherency collects Antin’s influential critical essays and spontaneous, performed lectures (or “talk pieces”) for the very first time, capturing one of the most distinctive perspectives in contemporary literature. The essays presented here range from the first serious assessment of Andy Warhol published in a major art journal, as well as Antin’s provocative take on Clement Greenberg’s theory of Modernism, to frontline interventions in present debates on poetics and fugitive pieces from the ’60s and ’70s that still sparkle today—and represent a gold mine for art historians of the period. From John Cage to Allan Kaprow, Mark Rothko to Ludwig Wittgenstein, Antin takes the reader on an idiosyncratic, personal journey through twentieth-century culture with his trademark antiformalist panache—one thatwill be welcomed by any fan of this consummate trailblazer.
Edited by Jennifer L. Roberts Terra Foundation for American Art, 2016 Library of Congress N7431.S33 2016 | Dewey Decimal 701.8
Scale is perhaps the most spectacularly overlooked aspect of artistic production. As photographic and digital reproductions have essentially dematerialized art, critical and historical research dealing with scale—both within the American critical tradition and abroad—has become scattered and insufficiently theorized. However, by posing a specific challenge, such research forces a heightened recognition of both the properties of materials and the deep technical knowledge of makers. A reconsideration of scalar relationships in American art and visual culture therefore reveals original insights.
Scale is the second volume in the Terra Foundation Essays series. With eighty color illustrations and a wealth of new research from Glenn Adamson, Wendy Bellion, Wouter Davidts, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Christopher P. Heuer, Joshua G. Stein, and Jason Weems, it explores viewers’ physical relationship to Barnett Newman’s abstract canvases, the arduous engineering behind the creation of Mount Rushmore, and the charged significance of liberty poles in the landscape of eighteenth-century New York, among other topics that range from studies of specific works of art to significant conceptual and theoretical concerns.
With the rise of Abstract Expressionism, New York City became the acknowledged center of the avant-garde. Diana Crane documents the transformation of the New York art world between 1940 and 1985, both in the artistic styles that emerged during this period and the expansion of the number and types of institutions that purchased and displayed various works.
Crane's account is built around discussions of seven styles: Abstract Expressionism in the forties; Pop art and Minimalism in the sixties; Figurative painting, Photorealism, and Pattern painting in the early seventies; and Neo-Expressionism in the early eighties. Demonstrating that the New York art world moved toward increasing acceptance of dominant American cultural trends, Crane offers a fascinating look not only at the intricacies of New York's artistic inner circle but also at the sociology of work and professions, the economics of culture markets such as "dealing art," and the sociology of culture.
Unpackaging Art of the 1980s
Alison Pearlman University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress N6512.P395 2003 | Dewey Decimal 709.7309048
American art of the 1980s is as misunderstood as it is notorious. Critics of the time feared that market hype and self-promotion threatened the integrity of art. They lashed out at contemporary art, questioning the validity of particular media and methods and dividing the art into opposing camps. While controversies have since subsided, critics still view art of the 1980s as a stylistic battlefield. Alison Pearlman rejects this picture, which is truer of the period's criticism than of its art.
Pearlman reassesses the works and careers of six artists who became critics' biggest targets. In each of three chapters, she pairs two artists the critics viewed as emblematic of a given trend: Julian Schnabel and David Salle in association with Neo-Expressionism; Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring vis-à-vis Graffiti Art; and Peter Halley and Jeff Koons in relation to Simulationism. Pearlman shows how all these artists shared important but unrecognized influences and approaches: a crucial and overwhelming inheritance of 1960s and 1970s Conceptualism, a Warholian understanding of public identity, and a deliberate and nuanced use of past styles and media. Through in-depth discussions of works, from Haring's body-paintings of Grace Jones to Schnabel's movie Basquiat, Pearlman demonstrates how these artists' interests exemplified a broader, generational shift unrecognized by critics. She sees this shift as starting not in the 1980s but in the mid-1970s, when key developments in artistic style, art-world structures, and consumer culture converged to radically alter the course of American art.
Unpackaging Art of the 1980s offers an innovative approach to one of the most significant yet least understood episodes in twentieth-century art.
In this ambitious and imaginative study, Margaretta M. Lovell analyzes the large body of accomplished, sometimes startling, often brilliant work of American artists drawn to Venice's ragged splendor in the last century. Including major works by such diverse and talented painters as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Maurice Prendergast, these richly varied paintings portray sleepy canals, architectural monuments, and scenes of picturesque everyday life while they also reveal surprising aspects of American culture.