300 years of Innovation surveys the art of a nation struggling to define itself during the first centuries of its existence.The U.S. was born at the end of the 18th century,as the modern values of independence and entrepreneurship swept the world.And throughout its history the country has produced art that expresses pride in its innovative ideals and the challenges it faces in living hip to them.
The exhibition creates a composite proture of the American experience–its myths,dreams,ordeals and valuerabilities.Periods of colonization and expansion,national and regional,identities and moments of rupture and cohesion are chronicled in the visual narrative of American painting.This form was interrocated,destablized and exponded in the era after World War Second and contemporary artists began to experiment with newer modes of expession such as conceptual sculpture,installation and vedio.Together,the artworks presented love alternately convey anxiety,confidence,criticism and praise,political engagement and aestheosis.These works are intended to communicate historical value as well as display artistic merit.From colonial protraiture commenorating wealthy landowners and founding fathers to landscapes capturing the awe–aspiring wilderness of the New World;from grand history paintings to alimsical genre scenes;from Gilded Age visions of the good life to the social realism of the Great Depression;form the cavalier triumph of Abstract Expressionism to the glorified kitchen of Pop art and the formal austerity of Minimalism and from Conceptual art to the return of painting and the explaration of new media.
"Art in America"presents the vibrant multiplicity and innovation of the democratic experiment.
Colonization and Rebellion 1700~1830
The European-style paitings produced during America’s colonial period constituted only a small percentage of the country’s artistic output.THe european colonies had been established on the fringes of Native American settlements,which had their own,traditions of act objects and the colonies themselves included many inhabitants from Asia and Africa who brought non-European artistic tastes.THe arts of this period therefore represented the values of several culture.BUt as the political history of the U.S. eventually centered on the relationship of the colonies to Great Britain,so too ahial the art history.Large scale oil paintings of prominent citizens,so important in Britain art in this period,soon dominated the American art world as well.
However,subtle variations were evident in American art from the beginning.The earliest Portraits of colonists reflect the influential puritan culture of New England,in which a stiff approach to the figure signified the strict maral code of the ideal citizen.By the 18th century,early colonial values relaxed and the wealthy Americans,like their European counter parts,sought portraits that displayed their luxurious garments and material possessions.But Americans continued to avoid the European symbols of nobility and power,concentraiting instead on their accomplshments as merchants and collectors.
Starting in 1776,when the colonies procloimed the Declaration of Independence and forget the Revolutionary War against Britain,there was a renewed desire to distingwish American ar from the European tradition.Portraits of civic leaders and public figures were intended to inspire neither reverence nor awe,but rathr national pride and eager citizenship.For several decades after the founding of the nation,the emphasisi on democracy and hard work,familiar from Puritan days,mode all aspects of American life worthy subjects for inspirational art.
Expansion and Fragmentation1830~1880
The necessity of developing a national identity after the war of independence (1775~1783) encouraged the citizens of the newly formed U.S.,to discuss what it meant to be an American.Promoters of the fine arts in the new republic needed to justify non-utlitarian objects as national symbols and emblems compatible with democracy.By the 12820s genre scenes,paintings that described contemporary life and the national landscape,offered American artists and their patrons a vehicle to illustrate their deeply held conviction that the U.S. and its citizens were exceptional by virture of their celebration of personal and economic freedom.
American genre paintings celebrated th common person and the commonplace event in a democratic milieu.The good of th genre painter was to amuse of provoke nods of recognition from vienes,who saw themselves or their neighbors reflected in the anecdotal scenes of ordinary daily life.As such genre paintings aided in the process of developing a national consciousness among th country’s disparate people.
American landscape paintings,depicting the mispoiled wilderness and seemingly limitless expanse of a virgin continent,symbolized the nation’s potential for greatness and very inspired by both political doctrine and phillosophical theory.Transcendentalism–the belief that God is immanent in nature and man–dominated American intellectual life from 1836~1860 and inspired Thomas Cole and generations of his hudson River School followers.By mid-century,the ideological mission of of Manifest Destiny–the Dread of democracy and freedom throwing a divinely sanctioned westward expansion of their country access the continental.
Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism1880~1910
American art at the turn of the 20th century reflects the challenges facing a country taking its place on the world stage for the 1st time.The new wealth of the U.S. allowed individual artists and collectors to make their mark abroad and display a truly cosmopolitan outlook.At the same time,massive immigration to the country from all corners of the world finally dispelled its identity as a former British colony and made such cities as New York more international then any other.
Fascination with the heroism of modern life found a particularly receptive audience in the U.S. where the development of modern technology was a great scource of national pride.This was the era of the steamship,which brought America and its art into easy reach of the world community and the mix of global molernism.THe popularity of Impressionism was matched if not surpassed,in the U.S. spurred by the many American artist working in Paris,and by the flow of French Impassionist paintings into American collections.
Other new technologies,particularly in the growing field of photography,aboked a powerful effect on American artists who embraced it as an aid ot painting from the start.But by 1900,innovations such as motion pictures allowed artists to give new force to their depictions of movement inscenes of American life.This probably affected the urban subjects that arose in NewYork.Rather than the colorful elegant Impressionist Ash Can style view of sought a monochromatic,pulsating image of the city of the commerce and immigration.Acutely aware of intrrational modernist trends,these painters believed in their own uniquely American interpretation of modern art.
Modernism and Regionalism1915~1945
Prosperity and Disillusionment1945~1980
Multicuturalism and Globalization1980~now