A radical re-evaluation of American modernism through four generations of artists and their work - now in paperback.
"That rarity of rarities, an opinionated but not eccentric scholarly history by a veteran museum curator whose every page crackles with original thinking and bears the stamp of a preternaturally sharp eye? Excellent reproductions and crisp typography complement the lucid prose." --Wall Street Journal
Twentieth-century art in America has long been understood in two very separate distinct halves: pre-World War II, often considered as inferior and provincial; and the triumphant, international post-war work that made a complete break with everything that went before. Agee discovers exciting new connections between artists and artworks, which strongly suggest that 1945 was not such a dividing line in art history after all. His fresh research offers an innovative approach and a brilliant take on art history.
Nineteenth-century Americans responded to landscape paintings because the subject existed all around them. Unlike paintings of ancient kings or mythic goddesses that in Europe were regarded as the highest achievement but in America were considered frivolous or morally corrupt, the land was a tangible presence, sometimes tranquil and serene, often mysterious and dangerous. Before 1820, depictions of the landscape had essentially served as backgrounds for portraits or as topographic documents. Thomas Cole transformed this "useful" landscape into a transcendental vision, where the hand of God was seen enlivening every aspect of nature. Cole's example opened the eyes of countless talented artists who sought the American soul in the vistas of its landscapes.
This quest is vividly brought to life in the paintings included here, by 31 artists who painted in and around the Hudson River in the 19th century. They not only show an America that was, but an America that still exists in the core of our national consciousness.
For the first time in its 40-year history, the American Folk Art Museum is able to present a significant selection of masterworks from its renowned collection, including major new acquisitions. American Anthem, which accompanies the show, is a chronological consideration of American folk art from the colonial period to the present. Unlike past surveys, the artworks will not be arranged by medium or theme, but rather through contextual settings in a visually powerful mix of materials, demonstrating the aesthetic ideas that were commonly held in a particular period and that received different interpretations across mediums. For example, the imposing portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, attributed to early Connecticut artist Reuben Moulthrop, will be considered along with a stunning late-18th century bed rug and superb examples of painted furniture of the period. Approximately one-third of the volume will be devoted to self-taught artists of the 20th century, placing this artistically and culturally diverse field in an historical continuum with traditional folk art for the first time. In every period, past and present, American folk artists have responded to common impulses: patriotism
From its birth as a remote trading outpost on the fringes of the Dutch empire to its current status as the so-called Capital of the World, New York has always captivated visual artists. The extraordinary prints collected by the New-York Historical Society over the course of its history vividly preserve these impressions on paper. In this handsome volume more than 150 of these views of the city -- including two spectacular gatefold panoramas -- speak eloquently of the surging power of this dynamic urban center. At the same time, they present an intimate portrait of everyday life as it has been lived and savored in this great city for more than three centuries.
The companion to an exhibition celebrating the New-York Historical Society's bicentennial anniversary, this beautifully printed volume presents a full range of historic images, from 1672 to the present. In the lively essay and information-filled captions, curator and historian Marilyn Symmes tells the unique stories behind the people and places, parks and buildings, streets and neighborhoods, parades and events depicted in each image -- in essence, the story of New York City itself.
The painted books of ancient Mexico constitute a particularly important chapter of world literature. The work of the tlacuilo, or scribes, goes back thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest; their exquisite manuscripts were written and drawn on native paper or skin and, later, on European paper. The vast majority of these codices were destroyed during the invasion; a precious few have survived. About twenty of the finest of these are in British collections and Professor Brotherston has undertaken a close study of them, comparing them with Mexican books in America and elsewhere.
Besides being beautiful works of art in their own right, the codices offer invaluable insights into the history, religion and legends of the ancient civilisations of Mesoamerica: the Olmec, Maya, Chichimec and Mexica (Aztec). The books meticulously record wars, conquests, dynastic disputes and the biographies of great rulers like the Mixtec king Eight Deer. Complex ritual calendars give a framework for the religious observances of these peoples and offer testimony to their obsession with dates and record-keeping; maps record the spread of the Mexica, Chichimec and Mixtec across Mesoamerica. After the Conquest most of the 'pagan' books were burned, but the book-making tradition continued and retained many of the old forms and conventions. Post-Conquest legal documents, for example, give stark evidence of the rapacity and brutality of the invaders.
Reveals the special qualities that have enabled artisans of the Catskill region to develop and sustain a remarkable craft tradition, and details all the processes involved in making handwoven cloths, ceramics, and other items
When, in 1989, a collection of John Updike's writings on art appeared under the title Just Looking, a reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle commented, "He refreshes for us the sense of prose opportunity that makes art a sustaining subject to people who write about it." In the sixteen years since Just Looking was published, he has continued to serve as an art critic, mostly for The New York Review of Books, and from fifty or so articles has selected, for this richly illustrated book, eighteen that deal with American art.After beginning with early American portraits, landscapes, and the transatlantic career of John Singleton Copley, Still Looking then considers the curious case of Martin Johnson Heade and extols two late-nineteenth-century masters, Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. Next, it discusses the eccentric pre-moderns James McNeill Whistler and Albert Pinkham Ryder, the competing American Impressionists and Realists in the early twentieth century, and such now-historic avant-garde figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Elie Nadelman. Two appreciations of Edward Hopper and appraisals of Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol round out the volume. America speaks through its artists. As Updike states in his introduction, "The dots can be connected from Copley to Pollock: the same tense engagement with materials, the same demand for a morality of representation, can be discerned in both." On Just Looking "Some of these essays are marvelous examples of critical explanation, in which the psychological concerns of the novelist drive the eye from work to work in an exhibition until a deep understanding of the art emerges."
--Arthur Danto, The New York Times Book Review "These are remarkably elegant little essays, dense in thought and perception but offhandedly casual in style. Their brevity makes more acute the sense of regret one feels to see them end." --Jeremy Strick, Newsday