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American art

Three Flags (1958) - Jasper Johns [Google Gallery]

Parent categories: art - USA

People: Thomas Eakins - Edward Hopper - MoMA - Roy Lichtenstein - Andy Warhol


America's first well-known school of painting—the Hudson River School—appeared in 1820. As with music and literature, this development was delayed until artists perceived that the New World offered subjects unique to itself; in this case the westward expansion of settlement brought the transcendent beauty of frontier landscapes to painters' attention.

The Hudson River painters' directness and simplicity of vision influenced such later artists as Winslow Homer (1836-1910), who depicted rural America—the sea, the mountains, and the people who lived near them. Middle-class city life found its painter in Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), an uncompromising realist whose unflinching honesty undercut the genteel preference for romantic sentimentalism. Henry Ossawa Tanner who studied with Thomas Eakins was one of the first important African American painters.

Controversy soon became a way of life for American artists. In fact, 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.

In the years after World War II, a group of young New York artists formed the first native American movement to exert major influence on foreign artists: abstract expressionism. Among the movement's leaders were Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), and Mark Rothko (1903-1970). The abstract expressionists abandoned formal composition and representation of real objects to concentrate on instinctual arrangements of space and color and to demonstrate the effects of the physical action of painting on the canvas.

Members of the next artistic generation favored a different form of abstraction: works of mixed media. Among them were Robert Rauschenberg (1925- ) and Jasper Johns (1930- ), who used photos, newsprint, and discarded objects in their compositions. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol (1930-1987), Larry Rivers (1923-2002), and Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), reproduced, with satiric care, everyday objects and images of American popular culture—Coca-Cola bottles, soup cans, comic strips.

Today artists in America tend not to restrict themselves to schools, styles, or a single medium. A work of art might be a performance on stage or a hand-written manifesto; it might be a massive design cut into a Western desert or a severe arrangement of marble panels inscribed with the names of American soldiers who died in Vietnam. Perhaps the most influential 20th-century American contribution to world art has been a mocking playfulness, a sense that a central purpose of a new work is to join the ongoing debate over the definition of art itself.

Notable figures
American artists of note include Thomas Hart Benton, Michael Bowen Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Remington, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Robert Capa, Ansel Adams, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John James Audubon, Gilbert Stuart, Alexander Calder, Dale Chihuly, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Norman Rockwell, Dr. Seuss, Jackson Pollock and Cindy Sherman. Major American architects include Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Kahn, Buckminster Fuller, Louis Sullivan and Frank Gehry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_arts_of_the_United_States [Mar 2006]

Thomas Cole

Aqueduct near Rome (1832) - Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole (February 1, 1801 - February 11, 1848) was a nineteenth century American artist; he is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century and was concerned with the realistic and detailed portrayal of nature. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cole [Dec 2006]

Three Flags (1958) - Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, Jr. (born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia) is an American artist. He studied at the University of South Carolina from 1949 to 1951. He is best known for his painting Flag (1954). His work is often described as a 'Neo-Dadaist', as opposed to Pop Art, even though his subject matter often includes images and objects from popular culture. Early works were composed using simple schemas such as flags, maps, targets, letters and numbers. Johns' treatment of the surface is often lush and painterly; he is famous for incorporating such media as encaustic (wax-based paint), and plaster relief in his paintings. The contrast between the graphical symbolic subject matter and the loosely handled surface raises the question "can a painting be what it depicts?" Johns also produces sculptures and lithographs with similar motifs. In 1998, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York paid over twenty million dollars for Johns' White Flag. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper_Johns [Sept 2005]

Norman Rockwell

Google Gallery

The Problem We All Live With (1964) - Norman Rockwell

The Problem We All Live With deals with the issue of school integration. The painting depicts a young African American girl, Ruby Bridges, flanked by white federal marshals, walking to school past a wall defaced by racist graffiti. It ranks among Norman Rockwell's best-known works today.

Rockwell is dismissed as a "serious painter" by some contemporary artists, who often regard his work as bourgeois and kitsch. He is called an illustrator instead of an artist by some critics, a designation he did not mind, as it was what he called himself. Yet, Rockwell sometimes produced images considered powerful and moving to anyone's eye. One example is The Problem We All Live With, which dealt with the issue of school integration. The painting depicts a young African American girl walking to school, flanked by white federal marshals, walking past a wall defaced by racist graffiti. It is probably not an image that could have appeared on a magazine cover earlier in Rockwell's career, but ranks among his best-known works today. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Rockwell [Sept 2005]

Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998 (2000) - Raymond Pettibon

Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998 (2000) - Raymond Pettibon
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Raymond Pettibon (born 1957 - ) is an American artist who is:

"known for his comic-like drawings with disturbing, ironic or ambiguous captions. His subject matter is sometimes violent and anti-authoritarian. He works primarily in ink on paper and many of his drawings are monochromatic, although he sometimes introduces color through the use of crayon, pencil, or watercolor. In addition to his paper works, Pettibon has experimented with video art and has recently produced large art installations by arranging his paper works within a room in the context of larger drawings made on the walls of the gallery. "

He also designed Sonic Youth's album cover art for Goo

He is featured here thanks to my rereading of an early issue of Fringecore magazine.

His work somehow reminds me of Antwerp artist Dennis Tyfus, especially works like this one.

The Raymond Pettibon Google gallery.

Philip Pearlstein

  • Philip Pearlstein: Since 1983 () - Robert Storr [Amazon.com][FR] [DE] [UK]
    Long acknowledged as a master of contemporary realism, Philip Pearlstein (b. 1924) has been painting his famed monumental nudes since the 1960s. The larger-than-life men and women who occupy his canvases veer out of the frame at surprising angles, posed sitting or reclining passively, disinterestedly, under stark, even light. Since the early 1980s, Pearlstein has introduced folk art, sculpture, and other objects into his paintings, making complex compositions that create visual tension between human and inanimate forms. This striking volume-the only book now in print on this grand master of contemporary figurative painting-includes a fascinating interview with the artist and a thoughtful essay by curator, scholar, and art critic Robert Storr. --amazon.com

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