American art  cover

American Art (1830-2000)

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    American Art

  • John Bradley's "The Cellist"

    John Bradley's "The Cellist"
    The Cellist is one of Bradley's early works, and like other known early paintings by this artist, this one is small in scale and depicts a full-length figure. Nothing is known about the sitter, but he seems to be a man of means as well as a musician, as suggested by the elegant setting with a stylish pianoforte and cello that are prominent in the composition.
    (This information was obtained from
  • Edward Hick's "A Peaceable Kingdom"

    Edward Hick's "A Peaceable Kingdom"
    Edward Hicks painted many versions of The Peaceable Kingdom, taking the theme from a passage from the Book of Isaiah, 11:6-8, which tells of all the animals gathering together in harmony. Hicks recast the Biblical text as a poem: "The wolf did with the lambkin dwell in peace
    His grim carnivorous nature there did cease
    The leopard with the harmless kid laid down
    And not one savage beast was seen to frown.
    The lion with the fatling on did move
    A little child was leading them in love."
  • Winslow Homer's "Girl With Pitchfork"

    Winslow Homer's "Girl With Pitchfork"
    Girl with Pitchfork, painted in 1867 during the artist's visit to France, foreshadows the imposing figures of fisherwomen and other female laborers Homer produced in Cullercoats, England, some 13 years later. Yet in contrast to the typical "Homer girl" of the 1860s and early 1870s, whose proportions are delicate and youthful and whose activities are usually limited to leisure activities, the figure in Girl with Pitchfork is sturdy. (Information obtained from
  • George Inness' "Lake Albano"

    George Inness' "Lake Albano"
    Lake Albano is a fine example of Inness's work at mid-career. A sweeping view of a lake 12 miles south of Rome, the landscape features groups of figures in fashionable clothing and rustic peasant costumes and shows in the background a section of Roman aqueduct, a castle, a tall stone pine, and a stand of cypress trees.
    ( Information obtained from
  • Albert Pinkham Ryder's "Moonlit Cove"

    Albert Pinkham Ryder's "Moonlit Cove"
    Throughout its history, Moonlit Cove has been cited as representative of Ryder's mature period. Early critics discerned a mood of romantic mystery combined with faithful rendering of natural forms, which Ryder attained through continual exploration of light, particularly nocturnal effects. The painting's presence in the 1913 Armory Show highlighted its status as an icon for the American modernists.( Information obtained from
  • Winslow Homer's "To The Rescue"

    Winslow Homer's "To The Rescue"
    The scene described in To the Rescue represents a drama of sea and land and the complementary roles of men and women—the former active, the latter passive. The urgency of the event is expressed only through the tense and uneasy movement of the running man. Homer ultimately returned to the shipwreck theme in a later painting in which the viewer finds the explicit narrative of the tragic accident hinted at in To the Rescue. (
  • William Merritt Chase's "Hide and Seek"

    William Merritt Chase's "Hide and Seek"
    When Chase returned to New York in 1878 from his studies abroad, he was armed with the dark palette and bravura brushwork of the Munich school. Yet he remained receptive to other influences. By 1886 his work began to show the effects of plein-air painting, a technique he had practiced in Holland as early as 1880, but which he would not take up again until several years later, at Shinnecock, New York, where he produced many impressionist paintings. (
  • Theodore Robinson's "Giverny"

    Theodore Robinson's "Giverny"
    In 1887 the first wave of American artists arrived at Giverny, a small village on the Seine northwest of Paris where Monet lived and painted. Among them was Theodore Robinson, a young artist who had spent four years steeping himself in the rigors of academic training, which stressed strong line, structured composition, and tonal values. (Information obtained from
  • Childe Hassam's "Washington Arch, Spring"

    Childe Hassam's "Washington Arch, Spring"
    The arch, sited on Washington Square at the southern end of Fifth Avenue, made clear Hassam's reference to a similar monument, the Arc d'Triomphe in Paris. The New York arch, designed by Stanford White, commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. (Information obtained from )
  • Thomas Eakin's "Miss Amelia Van Buren"

    Thomas Eakin's "Miss Amelia Van Buren"
    After his forced resignation from the Pennsylvania Academy in 1886, Eakins concentrated almost solely on portraiture. Among his finest and most compelling portraits is this painting of a former student and friend, Miss Amelia Van Buren. (Information obtained from
  • John Frederick Peto's "Old Time Card Rack"

    John Frederick Peto's "Old Time Card Rack"
    Upright, vertical compositions, called rack paintings, recall a seventeenth-century Flemish tradition. Typically they simulate a wooden bulletin board strung with ribbons or strings behind which letters and notes could be slipped for easy reference. Early in his career Peto painted such racks for many Philadelphia businesses, using letters, notes and other ephemera relating specifically to the patron.( Information obtained from )
  • Augustus Vincent Tack's "Windswept (Snow Picture,Leyden)

    Augustus  Vincent Tack's "Windswept (Snow Picture,Leyden)
    Beginning in 1897, Tack divided his time between New York City and the village of Deerfield in western Massachusetts, a practice he maintained for the rest of his life. The rural retreat became his home as well as the focus of his landscape painting until his discovery of the western landscape in the early 1920s. Tack's paintings of the Deerfield landscape include a suite of works that depict the countryside in different seasons.(Information obtained from
  • Rockwell Kent's "The Road Roller"

    Rockwell Kent's "The Road Roller"
    In the winter of 1908–1909, while living in Dublin, New Hampshire, Rockwell Kent created what he called his "best known example of that winter's work," The Road Roller, which depicts the Dublin Township roller packing down the snow in his driveway. This machine did not clear away snow from roads and drives, rather it packed down the snow to form a solid surface. (Information obtained from
  • Marsden Hartley's "Mountain Lake-Autumn"

    Marsden Hartley's "Mountain Lake-Autumn"
    The vibrant landscape scene, Mountain Lake—Autumn, was executed during Hartley's earliest painting trips to Maine. His interest in the vast mountainous landscape of his native state is captured within this fall scene. Mountain Lake—Autumn reveals Hartley's style of around 1910, when his landscapes had bright, fauve-like color reminiscent of Matisse and heavily textured brushstrokes that provide solidity and weight to the scene.( Information obtained from )
  • John Sloan's "Six O'Clock Winter"

    John Sloan's "Six O'Clock Winter"
    The massive El, creating a dark diagonal sweep across the length of the canvas, threatens to burst out of the picture frame, but it is held in check by the vertical steel posts, which are seemingly anchored in the crowd. Silhouetted against an ice-blue winter sky, the waiting train appears even more powerful. (Information obtained from )
  • William Glackens' "Bathers at Bellport"

    William Glackens' "Bathers at Bellport"
    Bathers at Bellport is reminiscent of Claude Monet's paintings of the 1860s in the broad and direct treatment of color, brevity of touch, and dashes of jewel-like pigment that denote foliage and the sun's shimmering reflection on the water. However, Glackens distinguished himself from the impressionists by not allowing light to erode the contour of an object. (Information obtained from
  • Charles Burchfield's "Moonlight Over the Arbor"

    Charles Burchfield's "Moonlight Over the Arbor"
    This painting is among Burchfield's earliest paintings, in which he portrayed his hometown and surrounding area with a fresh and responsive eye. The artist reacted deeply to things he knew well, and he attempted to convey more than just a fleeting visual impression of familiar scenes. Like other paintings of this early phase of Burchfield's career, Moonlight Over the Arbor has a direct, uncomplicated innocence.(Information obtained from
  • George Luks' "Blue Devils On Fifth Avenue"

    George Luks' "Blue Devils On Fifth Avenue"
    Duncan Phillips acquired Luks's oil Blue Devils on Fifth Avenue at the height of his World War I political efforts. Unable to join the armed forces, Phillips was determined to find ways for American art and artists to serve the cause, organizing exhibitions, including the huge Allied War Salon of 1918, held in New York. In general, the war-theme paintings were disappointing to critics, but Luks's Blue Devils on Fifth Avenue was a brilliant exception. ( )
  • Maurice Prendergast's "Ponte della Paglia"

    Maurice Prendergast's "Ponte della Paglia"
    The bright, gay crowd scene reveals the artist's delight with his festive Venetian surroundings. It also suggests the possible influence of Vittore Carpaccio's Saint Ursula series, 1490-1500, at the Venice Academy, in which there is a mass of figures receding into space over an arched bridge. Not only does the Prendergast have a similar composition, it also uses the warm, glowing tones of Venetian painting.( Information obtained from )
  • Charles Sheeler's "Skyscrapers"

    Charles Sheeler's "Skyscrapers"
    Skyscrapers, which reflects the 1920s precisionist aesthetic, is one of Sheeler's most accomplished assimilations of European modernism into his own uniquely American style. Using sharply defined contours, non-atmospheric planes of color, and intense frontal light, Sheeler conveyed the grandeur of monumental buildings grouped together.
    (Information obtained from
  • Arthur G. Dove's "Goin' Fishin'"

    Arthur G. Dove's "Goin' Fishin'"
    Goin' Fishin' was interpreted by many writers on art, including Duncan Phillips, as a good-natured exposition of a Mark Twain character's fishing exploits, and others have connected it with a drowned African-American fisherman. Dove himself denied these ideas, saying that his starting point was simply an African-American man sitting on the pier. ( Information obtained from )
  • Georgia O'Keefe's "Large Dark Red Leaves On White"

    Georgia O'Keefe's "Large Dark Red Leaves On White"
    Produced in the early period when O'Keeffe was exploring the idea of enlarging the central motif, Large Dark Red Leaves on White depicts the leaves magnified and slightly cropped to fill the canvas. The results of O'Keeffe's dispassionate observation are at once coolly distant and psychologically intense. (Information obtained from )
  • Stuart Davis' "Egg Beater No.4"

    Stuart Davis' "Egg Beater No.4"
    Egg Beater No. 4 is the final work in Davis's noted Egg Beater series of1927–28, in which he achieved an original abstract style. He had been exploring abstraction as early as 1913, when he admired the works of Cézanne, Léger, and Picasso at the Armory Show. Davis purposely chose unrelated objects—eggbeater, electric fan, and rubber glove—so that he could concentrate on relationships of color, shape, and space.(Information obtained from
  • Walt Khun's "Plumes"

    Walt Khun's "Plumes"
    Plumes is quintessential Kuhn: a performer, shown in frontal view and wearing a slightly disillusioned expression, is placed against a simple background and depicted in bright, dissonant colors. The theme of a showgirl donning theatrical costume frequently recurred in Kuhn's mature work and was met with a great deal of success. Painted directly from the model, Mabel Benson.(Information obtained from
  • John Marin's "Bryant Square"

    John Marin's "Bryant Square"
    Although Marin is well known for his watercolors, from 1928 to 1938 he worked exclusively in oil, works that are acclaimed for their rich and varied handling of paint. The surface of Bryant Square shows flat, thinly painted sections, almost transparent, as well as elements that are thickly painted, mainly in the lower sections of the composition.(Information obtained from
  • Ralston Crawford's "Factory Roofs"

    Ralston Crawford's "Factory Roofs"
    During the early thirties, at a time when many American artists were turning away from the wave of modernism that had swept the country since the early teens, Crawford appropriated the precisionist style to create smoothly painted, planar paintings of subjects specifically associated with America, such as skyscrapers, industrial structures, and machinery.( Information obtained from )
  • Arthur G.Dove's "Red Sun"

    Arthur G.Dove's "Red Sun"
    Red Sun reveals Dove's fascination with both the outward appearance and underlying mystery of nature. As in other works of this period, undulating lines and shapes of earth and sky serve as representations of the forces of nature, a theme that became most visible in Dove’s work during the 1930s. (Information obtained from )
  • Milton Avery's "Shells and Fishermen"

    Milton Avery's "Shells and Fishermen"
    Often Avery's ideas for paintings came from one of the countless sketches he made on summer travels. His numerous sketchbooks, not to mention quick notations on scraps of paper or the back of an envelope, record his response to pleasures large and small, near and far, from a simple still life to an expanse of sea or hills. Avery would typically choose to focus on a telling detail like the seashells acquired on his trip to California as revealed in Shells and Fishermen. (
  • Jacob Lawerence's "The Migration of the Negro"-1 out of the series

    Jacob Lawerence's "The Migration of the Negro"-1 out of the series
    In a century when painting has shifted away from narrative, Lawrence is a master storyteller, bringing to life important historical events by drawing upon his emotional responses to them. Profoundly affected by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, he was first exposed to art in an after school program at the Utopia House, where classes were taught by Charles Alston, later his mentor at the Harlem Art Workshop.(Information obtained from
  • Edward Hopper's "Approaching a City"

    Edward Hopper's "Approaching a City"
    Hopper's most effective travel pieces are joyless. Places travelers use regularly--train stations, bridges, and hotels—are purged of anything too specific or inviting. Revealing the essentials of a scene, Hopper convinces the viewer to see it truthfully, as if it were for the first time. ( Information obtained from )
  • William de Kooning's "Asheville"

    William de Kooning's "Asheville"
    Willem de Kooning's Asheville takes its name from the North Carolina town near Black Mountain College where de Kooning taught in the summer of 1948. A small but extremely complex work, it gathers together numerous, often oblique allusions, including references to the college and sections that recall de Kooning's early training in crafts such as marbling, woodgraining, and lettering. ( Information obtained from )
  • Alexander Calder's "Only Only Bird"

    Alexander Calder's "Only Only Bird"
    Only Only Bird is made out of tin cans. Calder ingeniously cut and assembled the body so that at the rear of the bird, just under the tail feathers, the printed legend on one of the cans is visible: "ONLY Aborns dares reveal its complete blend because Aborns uses ONLY highest priced premium coffee and nothing else!" In addition to the Aborn’s Coffee can, Calder used cans from other brands of coffee: Hills Brothers, Pastene, and Medaglia d’Oro.(Information obtained from
  • Mark Rothko's Ochre and Red on Red"

    Mark Rothko's Ochre and Red on Red"
    In Rothko's compositions, the rectangles and their surrounding space are given equal importance as presences. Beginning with no preconceived vision of a painting's final state, he intuitively adjusted his forms, always working with a frontal arrangement of horizontal or vertical rectangular forms. Rothko paid close attention to their height, width and edges, their distance from the edges of the canvas, and their interrelationships.(Information obtained from
  • Philip Guston's "Native's Return"

    Philip Guston's "Native's Return"
    By the early 1950s, Phillip Guston had completely eliminated representation from his paintings and arrived at an abstract style featuring centered masses of densely packed, colored brushstrokes whose boundaries fade and dissolve into their surrounding atmosphere. Native's Return (1957) is one of Guston's strongest statements in this abstract style. (Information obtained from )
  • Franz Kiline's "Untitled"

    Franz Kiline's "Untitled"
    Untitled (1957) combines broad strokes of color, of black, and areas of unpainted ground. Saturated hues of green and yellow emerge from the composition, for example, acid yellow grounds in the bottom section of the work and a scattering of that color throughout the top section. Vibrant red orange dominates the upper right portion of the composition and contrasts with bold areas of green, heightening the sense of intense activity.(Information obtained from
  • Sam Francis' "Blue"

    Sam Francis' "Blue"
    In January 1958, Sam Francis returned to Paris after a yearlong world tour that took him by way of Mexico, to Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and India. Inspired by his trip, he embarked on a prolific and successful year. Blue, painted at this time, reflects a synthesis of his innate love for color and light and a new understanding of space and calligraphic line derived from his Asian experiences. ( Information obtained from )
  • Richard Diebenkorn's "Girl with Plant"

    Richard Diebenkorn's "Girl with Plant"
    With the addition of the human figure, Diebenkorn heightens the conflict between representation and abstraction, exemplified in Girl with Plant. He became fascinated with the manner in which the figure and its environment interacted to create highly emotional works. In his desire to evoke a pervasive mood, Diebenkorn sought to de-emphasize his figures as emotional focal points by depicting them either without faces or from behind.(Information obtained from
  • Morris Louis' "Number 182"

    Morris Louis' "Number 182"
    In the fall of 1961, Morris Louis abruptly stopped painting the series of Unfurleds (1960–1961)—monumental works marked by banked rivulets of pure color bounding an expanse of bare white canvas—and began creating Pillar or Stripe paintings. Number 182 is an early work in Louis's third and final series, where he revived his 1960 experiments with vertical bands of pure color often called Columns. ( Information obtained from )
  • Robert Motherwell's "In White and Yellow Ochre"

    Robert Motherwell's "In White and Yellow Ochre"
    In comparison to Motherwell’s other collages executed around 1960, In White and Yellow Ochre is a more abstract, enigmatic, and complex collaged image. While its central motif might allude to an upright figure, elements in the upper part could be interpreted as a landscape with an implied horizon line.( Information obtained from )
  • Helen Frankenthaler's "Canyon"

    Helen Frankenthaler's "Canyon"
    Although Canyon, with its large red field surrounded by a sea of blue-green, might seem nonrepresentational, Frankenthaler's work conveys her immediate response to nature; her ideas are expressed in large color shapes and in the ways the hues act on each other. Frankenthaler has left visible only a small area of the bare canvas, in the upper edge of the painting, as she wishes to emphasize the play of color on color rather than color on canvas.(Information obtained from
  • Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park No. 38"

    Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park No. 38"
    Richard Diebenkorn’s artistic oeuvre was greatly influenced by his immediate environment. From 1955 to 1973 Diebenkorn taught at several California arts institutions, including a position at UCLA (1967) while he worked in a studio in the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica. Here, the artist’s commitment to observation of the American Western landscape came to fruition in his non-objective, abstract Ocean Park Series of paintings.(Information obtained from
  • Frank Stella's "Pilica II"

    Frank Stella's "Pilica II"
    Beginning with his seminal and highly provocative Black Paintings (1958–1960), which served as a catalyst for the development of minimalism, Stella produced art during the sixties that epitomized his famous slogan, "What you see is what you see." In the ensuing decade, however, he changed directions, further exploring and expanding the very definition of painting, and by the late seventies he had moved away from the flat surface of the canvas into the third dimension.
  • Kenneth Noland's "Untitled"

    Kenneth Noland's "Untitled"
    In his art, Noland tends to deal with only a few elements: color, and a singular form within a given structure. He has concentrated on using geometric motifs in a succession of formats: circles, chevrons, and diamonds, as a means of focusing on the way in which color can function dynamically on the two-dimensional surface. The mood of Noland’s paintings changes depending on the selection and textures of the colors.(Information obtained from
  • Philip Guston's "Untitled"

    Philip Guston's "Untitled"
    In an effort to heighten the direct symbolism of the objects in works like Untitled, Guston stripped them of detracting elements such as calligraphic brushstrokes or pleasing color. Guston considered many of these cartoonlike paintings to be self-portraits, comments on his life and his situation as an artist. The visual vocabulary of Untitled consists of bloated forms suggesting tools, wheels, stones, and architecture, with posts and beams askew.(
  • Richard Diebenkorn's "Untitled( Ocean Park Drawing)

    Richard Diebenkorn's "Untitled( Ocean Park Drawing)
    Unlike Diebenkorn’s early Ocean Park paintings, the early drawings are typically spare and schematic. However, by the mid-1970s the drawings become more complex and colorful and as fully realized as the paintings. By the late seventies, the drawings had become increasingly sophisticated and varied. Works such as Untitled (Ocean Park Drawing) typify Diebenkorn’s works of the 1980s.(Information obtained from )
  • Sean Scully's "Red and Red"

    Sean Scully's "Red and Red"
    Executed while Scully was living in New York, Red and Red marks a period that included paintings that suggest mysterious formal and emotional relationships, merging construction and painting. The reds here are both broken apart as separate forms but reunified through the brushstroke. ( Information obtained from )
  • Jacob Lawerence's "On the Way"

    Jacob Lawerence's "On the Way"
    While the colorful, animated design first draws the viewer into the composition, closer examination of On the Way reveals clearly defined figures and objects. Created after the height of the Civil Rights movement, Lawrence shows men and women moving quickly through the streets, on their way to their various destinations. Implicit in this activity is the notion of the African American community on its way to a better future—with the tools for building it in their hands.(
  • Wayne Thiebaud's "Five Rows of Sunglasses"

    Wayne Thiebaud's "Five Rows of Sunglasses"
    Throughout his career Thiebaud experimented with various subject matter—from still lifes, figurative works and portraits to landscapes—but remained dedicated to the depiction of everyday items in American life. Although Thiebaud shares his fascination with America’s commercial icons with the Pop art movement, he has forged his own distinctive artistic style and mode of expression. ( Information obtained from )
  • John Walker's "October Low Tide, Maine"

    John Walker's "October Low Tide, Maine"
    Inspired by the landscape of the Maine coast, John Walker created a series of paintings characterized by highly articulated, expressive brushwork. October Low Tide, Maine, with its free and vivid brushstrokes and powerful abstract composition, constitutes a new direction for the artist, one that emphasizes surface texture and strong color and light. ( Information obtained from )