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American Art

  • Date Submitted: 10/06/2010 01:21 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 42 
  • Words: 434
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American Art, painting and sculpture in colonial America and then the United States, from the late 16th century to the present. Until the early 19th century, painting in America was confined largely to portraiture, sculpture to utilitarian objects. But in that century American artists took up the full range of subjects in painting—still lifes, landscapes, history paintings, and scenes of everyday life. Sculptors began to produce large-scale works in marble. In painting landscape emerged as the dominant subject. The earliest landscape painters in America, the Hudson River School, conceived of the land as wild and intractable, reinforcing America's view of itself as something new, a kind of Garden of Eden. At first most artists in America lived along the Eastern seaboard, but starting in the 1830s and 1840s some artists from the East pushed westward, a move reflected in paintings of Native Americans by George Catlin and paintings of animals and Native Americans of the Rocky Mountain region by Albert Bierstadt. These painters helped Americans envision the vast land to the west.

A core of realism, a reluctance to depart from the facts of existence, continued in painting until the end of the 1800s, even when painters conveyed a somewhat romanticized view of nature. We can see this adherence to realism in unidealized portraits by colonial painters such as John Singleton Copley and in mid-19th-century landscapes by the so-called luminist painters, who explored the effects of light. And when Childe Hassam and other American painters turned to European impressionism in the late 1800s, they kept the figures and objects in their paintings fairly intact, in contrast to the Europeans who dissolved objects into patches of color. Opposing this realist mainstream were a few imaginative approaches, such as the mystical landscapes by Albert Pinkham Ryder and Ralph Albert Blakelock. In sculpture, neoclassicism—a revival of ancient Greek and Roman styles that was popular in...

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