COLONIAL PERIOD (1700-1800)
Many colonial painters were itinerant artists who wandered countryside in search of families who wanted their portraits painted.
Similar in style to European counterparts.
Silver pieces see Paul Revere)
Benjamin Wade and John Copley
Went to England where they received training and financial support to establish themselves as prominent artists
Portrait of George Washington (1796)
John Singleton Copley
"Watson and the Shark" (1778)
1740s and 50s, Georgian style of London was imitated.
Brick and stucco homes with symmetrical placements of windows and dormers with a spacious center hall flanked by two fireplaces.
One-room log cabins
Widely read religious tracts by Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards
Phillis Wheatley (former slave) wrote poetry
Most popular and successful American writer of the 18th century
Wrote advice and aphorisms in Poor Richard's Almanack (revised annually from 1732-1757)
In 1725 there were only 5 newspapers
By 1776, there were more than 40.
issued weekly, each newspaper had a single sheet folded once to make four pages
First cartoon in Philadelphia Gazette placed there by Ben Franklin
Peter Zenger Case
risk for jail for libel if the article offenddded poltiical authorities
1735 John Peter Zenger, a New York editor and publishers, was brought to trial on charge o libelously criticizing New York's royal governor.
Zenger's lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, argued that his client had printed the truth about the governor.
The jury voted acquit Zenger encouraging newspapers to take greater risks in criticizing a colony's government.
Neoclassical style (based on Roman architecture) modeled after buildings in Paris
See Jefferson's house called Monticello (1768-1809)
Two stories with sense of symmetry
Philadelphia's independence Hall finished in 1750s
Washington DC established as the capital in 1790
John Adams, James Otis, John Dickinson, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson
Declaration of Independence based on John Locke's Enlightenment ideas about government
With Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and explorations of Lewis and Clark more interest focused on frontier
Hudson River school
Painters wanted to show off the beauty of the newly-acquired lands.
Drew landscapes that displayed grandeur of the land.
John James Audubon
Birds of America illustrations showed birds in frontier.
Bronze sculptures immortalized western cowboy
Wooden structures replaced by brick buildings.
Like French Impressionists (Monet, Manet) focused on light and "impression"
Created more experimental paintings
Focused less on "captured light" than French artists.
Brighter, bolder colors.
ANTEBELLUM YEARS (1800-1900)
Genre painting 1830s
Portraying the everyday life of ordinary people: riding on riverboats, voting etc.
George Caleb Bingham
Depicted common people in various settings carrying out domestic chores.
William S. Mount
Popular for lively rural compositions.
Hudson River School
Thomas Cole and Frederick Church
Emphasized heroic beauty of American landscapes, especially in dramatic scenes along the Hudson River.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
About time spent in the wilderness
Pioneer ecologist and conservationist
On Civil Disobedience
Encouraging peaceful disobedience as a form of protest
Thoreau stopped paying taxes to protest Mexican-American War (1846-48)
His methods were mimicked by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Post War of 1812 = nationalism
Fiction in American settings
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Rip Van Winkle
Kidd the Pirate
James Fenimore Cooper
Series of novels written from 1824-1841
glorified frontiersman as nature's nobleman
Scarlet Letter (1850)
Questioned intolerance and conformity.
About Puritan colonies.
Moby Dick (1855)
Reflected theological and cultural conflicts of the era through the story of Captain Ahab's pursuit of an elusive white whale.
REALISM/INDUSTRIAL PERIOD (1900-1905)
Wanted to show life as it was
Suggesting that human beings were not so much rational shapers of their own destinies but were blind victims of forces beyond their control -- including their own subconscious impulses.
Rejected traditional canons of literary taste
Questioned the whole idea of progress and order
Modernist focused on the subconscious and primitive mind.
Above all, they sought to overturn convention and tradition
Ezra Pound: "Make it new!"
Showed life as it was with crowded streets and people going about their day.
Some photographers argued that "true" representations made painting obsolete.
Caused artists to invent their own forms of realism.
New York Realists or Ash Can School or "The Eight" (although only 5 of the 8 were Ashcan)
Called "Ash Can School" by critics because they chose subjects that were not conventionally beautiful.
In the spirit of political rebellion of the period.
Rebelled against American impressionism and academic realism.
Generally darker in tone than earlier styles, roughly painted
Many captured harsher moments of modern life
Portraying street kids, prostitutes, alcoholics, subways, crowded tenements, washing hung out to dry, bloodied boxers etc.
focus on poverty and the gritty realities of urban life.
fasicinated with life in the great cities.
"the backs of tenement houses are living documents"
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Wrote lighthearted books
Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Condemned slavery and racism
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
Ends with a bloody, technology driven slaughter of Arthur's knights
Twain became one of the bitterest critics of America's ideas of progress.
Clemens (Twain) was devastated by death of wife and two daughters as well as failed investments and bankruptcy.
outspoken critic of imperialism and foreign missions.
Twain eventually denounced Christianity itself as a hypocritical delusion.
Like Andrew Carnegie, he "got rid of technology"
William Dean Howell
Called for writers "to picture the daily life in the most exact terms possible"
Dismissed unrealistic novels that always had "a happy ending"
Wrote Main-Traveled Roads (1891) based on the struggles of his Midwestern farm family
Wrote about hardships of rural life.
Wrote Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
Privately printed because no publisher would touch it
Described the seduction, abandonment and death of a slum girl.
Tried to capture "a world of fists"
Spent teen years as a factory worker, sailor and tramp
Wrote stories like "The Law of Life (1901) dramatizing what he saw as the harsh reality of an uncaring universe.
said American society was "a jungle wherein wild beasts eat and are eaten"
Armory Show (1913)
Realists participated in the most controversial events in American art history
Housed in an enormous National Guard building in New York
Introduced Americans to modern art.
Cubism, abstract geometric forms
Works by Henri, Sloan and Bellows
As well as Pablo Picasso.
Emerged from Armory show
Student of Robert Henri (one of founders of Ash Can School)
Showed life as it was, but reflected in the isolation people felt after WWI
Nighthawks painting 1942
Rejected the crowded streets
In favor of scenes of farming and the rural Midwest
Stern-faced farmers modeled after his sister and detist
Response to WWI
Shapes defied logical forms of painting
Art Deco (1920s)
Example: Chrysler Building in New York