Reading American Art

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 6/16/1998
  • Publisher: Yale University Press

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This anthology brings together twenty outstanding works of recent scholarship on the history of the visual arts in the United States from the colonial period to 1945. The selected essays -- all written within the past two decades -- reflect the interdisciplinary character of current art historiography in America and the variety of approaches that contribute to the dynamism in the field. The authors take up diverse subjects -- from colonial portraits to nineteenth-century sculptures of women to photographic images of New York -- and invite those with a general knowledge of the history of American art to think more deeply about art and culture. Employing many interpretive methodologies, including iconology, social history, structuralism, psychobiography, and feminist theory, the contributors to this volume combine close analysis of specific art objects or groups of objects with discussion of how these works of art operated within their cultural contexts. The authors consider the works of such artists as John Singleton Copies, Charles Willson Peale, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock as they assess how paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and photographs have carried meaning within American society. And they investigate how the conceptualization, production, and presentation of works of art both inform and are informed by prevailing attitudes toward the role of the arts and the artist in American culture. "For a broad survey course on American art, this anthology is a terrific resource. Its articles are well chosen, comprehensive, and representative of the state of research in the field". -- Sarah Burns, Indiana University

Table of Contents

Editors' Preface vii
1 The Seventeenth-Century New England Mercantile Image: Social Content and Style in the Freake Portraits
Wayne Craven
2 Character and Class: The Portraits of John Singleton Copley
Paul Staiti
3 Charles Willson Peale's Expressive Design: The Artist in His Museum
Roger B. Stein
4 Thomas Cole and the Aristocracy
Alan Wallach
5 "A Correct Likeness": Culture and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Rural America
David Jaffee
6 The Painter's Triumph: William Sidney Mount and the Formation of a Middle-Class Art
William T. Oedel
Todd S. Gernes
7 "Doomed to Perish": George Catlin's Depictions of the Mandan
Kathryn S. Hight
8 Narratives of the Female Body: The Greek Slave
Joy S. Kasson
9 The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking and Inverting Autobiography
Kirsten P. Buick
10 "The Kiss of Enterprise": The Western Landscape as Symbol and Resource
Nancy K. Anderson
11 The Gross Clinic, or Portrait of Professor Gross
Elizabeth Johns
12 Winslow Homer in His Art
Jules D. Prown
13 Mary Cassatt: Painter of Women and Children
Griselda Pollock
14 Image and Ideology: New York in the Photographer's Eye
Alan Trachtenberg
15 John Sloan's Images of Working-Class Women: A Case Study of the Roles and Interrelationships of Politics, Personality, and Patrons in the Development of Sloan's Art, 1905-16
Patricia Hills
16 O'Keeffe and the Masculine Gaze
Anna C. Chave
17 The Open Window and the Empty Chair: Charles Sheeler's View of New York
Carol Troyen
18 The Birth of a National Icon: Grant Wood's American Gothic
Wanda M. Corn
19 The Question of Difference: Isabel Bishop's Deferential Office Girls
Ellen Wiley Todd
20 Jackson Pollock: Representing the Unconscious
Michael Leja
Contributors 465(3)
Acknowledgments 468

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