20th century American art  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Abstract expressionism marks a turning-point in the history of American art: the 1940s and 1950s saw international attention shift from European, and more particularly Parisian art, to American art, with a concentration in New York.

Contents

The 1900s

American Symbolism, Armory Show

Much of American painting and sculpture since 1900 has been a series of revolts against tradition. "To hell with the artistic values," announced Robert Henri (1865-1929). He was the leader of what critics called the Ashcan school of painting, after the group's portrayals of the squalid aspects of city life. Soon the ash-can artists gave way to modernists arriving from Europe—the cubists and abstract painters promoted by the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) at his 291 Gallery in New York City. John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Alfred Henry Maurer, Arthur Dove, Stuart Davis, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Morgan Russell, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Gerald Murphy were some important early American modernist painters.

Interwar years

After World War I many American artists also rejected the modern trends emanating from the Armory Show and European influences such as those from the School of Paris. Instead they chose to adopt academic realism in depicting American urban and rural scenes. Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth and the artists from the Ashcan school or American realism: notably George Bellows, Everett Shinn, George Benjamin Luks, William Glackens, and John Sloan and others developed socially conscious imagery in their works.

The American Southwest

Following the first World War, the completion of the Santa Fe Railroad enabled American settlers to travel across the west, as far as the California coast. New artists’ colonies started growing up around Santa Fe and Taos, the artists primary subject matter being the native people and landscapes of the Southwest. Images of the Southwest became a popular form of advertising, used most significantly by the Santa Fe Railroad to entice settlers to come west and enjoy the “unsullied landscapes.” Walter Ufer, Bert Greer Phillips, E. Irving Couse, William Henry Jackson, and Georgia O'Keefe are some of the more prolific artists of the southwest.

Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was another significant development in American art. In the 1920s and 30s a new generation of educated and politically astute African-American men and women emerged who sponsored literary societies and art and industrial exhibitions to combat racist stereotypes. The movement showcases the range of talents within African-American communities. Though the movement included artists from across America, it was centered in Harlem, and work from Harlem graphic artist Aaron Douglas and photographer James VanDerZee became emblematic of the movement. Some of the artists include Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Alston, Augusta Savage, Archibald Motley, Lois Mailou Jones, Palmer Hayden and Sargent Johnson.

New Deal Art

When the Great Depression hit, president Roosevelt’s New Deal created several public arts programs. The purpose of the programs was to give work to artists and decorate public buildings, usually with a national theme. The first of these projects, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), was created after successful lobbying by the unemployed artists of the Artists' Union. The PWAP lasted less than one year, and produced nearly 15,000 works of art. It was followed by the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA) in 1935, which funded some of the most well-known American artists. Several separate and related movements began and developed during the Great Depression including American scene painting, Regionalism, and Social Realism. Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, Ben Shahn, Joseph Stella, Reginald Marsh, Isaac Soyer, Raphael Soyer, and Jack Levine were some of the best known artists.

After World War II

Abstract Expressionism

In the years after World War II, a group of New York artists formed the first American movement to exert major influence internationally: abstract expressionism. This term, which had first been used in 1919 in Berlin, was used again in 1946 by Robert Coates in the New York Times, and was taken up by the two major art critics of that time, Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. It has always been criticized as too large and paradoxical, yet the common definition implies the use of abstract art to express feelings, emotions, what is within the artist, and not what stands without.

The first generation of abstract expressionists was composed of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, Phillip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, and Hans Hofmann. Though the numerous artists encompassed by this label had widely different styles, contemporary critics found several common points between them.

Many first generation abstract expressionists were influenced both by the Cubists' works (black & white copies in art reviews and the works themselves at the 291 Gallery or the Armory Show), and by the European Surrealists, most of them abandoned formal composition and representation of real objects; and by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Often the abstract expressionists decided to try instinctual, intuitive, spontaneous arrangements of space, line, shape and color. Abstract Expressionism can be characterized by two major elements - the large size of the canvases used, (partially inspired by Mexican frescoes and the works they made for the WPA in the 1930s), and the strong and unusual use of brushstrokes and experimental paint application with a new understanding of process.

The emphasis and intensification of color and large open expanses of surface were two of the principles applied to the movement called Color field Painting. Ad Reinhardt, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still and Barnett Newman were categorized as such. Another movement was called Action Painting, characterized by spontaneous reaction, powerful brushstrokes, dripped and splashed paint and the strong physical movements used in the production of a painting. Jackson Pollock is an example of an Action Painter: his creative process, incorporating thrown and dripped paint from a stick or poured directly from the can; he revolutionized painting methods. Willem de Kooning famously said about Pollock "he broke the ice for the rest of us." Ironically Pollock's large repetitous expanses of linear fields are also characteristic of Color Field painting as well, and art critic Michael Fried pointed that out in his essay for the catalog of Three American painters: Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella at the Fogg Art Museum in 1965.

Color field

Color field painting went on as a movement: artists in the 1950s, such as Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, and in the 1960s, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, and Helen Frankenthaler, sought to make paintings which would eliminate superfluous rhetoric with large, flat areas of color.

American contemporary art

American contemporary art

See




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "20th century American art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools