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ARTH210: American Art

Unit 5: The New Century to the Great Depression   In the early 1900s, for the first time in American history, the wealthy class in America rivaled the wealthy in Europe, and this development was reflected in portraiture and collecting. However, America also saw growing class division, facilitated by large waves of immigration. A new underclass became subjects in art.  World War I brought United States directly into world affairs and alliances.  The Harlem Renaissance takes shape. 

5.1 The Ashcan School and Early Abstraction   Note: Impressionism finally became popular in the early part of the 20th century, while “modern” urban American painters embraced immigrant life as subject matter.  Photographs of the urban poor began to affect public sentiment.  At the same time, the Armory Show brought European abstraction to New York. 

  • Web Media: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915”  (HTML)

    Instructions: View the image/entries for #28 to #38 (end). 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Barbara H. Weinberg’s “The Ashcan School” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Barbara H. Weinberg’s “The Ashcan School” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Read essay and view all image/entries.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: James Voorhies’ “Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and His Circle” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: James Voorhies’ “Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and His Circle” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read about photographer/gallerist Stieglitz, who helped popularize abstraction in America.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Whitney Museum of American Art: “Barbara Haskell and Sasha Nicholas Discuss [Georgia] O’Keeffe’s Use of Abstraction over the Course of Her Career” (2005) Link: Whitney Museum of American Art: “Barbara Haskell and Sasha Nicholas Discuss [Georgia] O’Keeffe’s Use of Abstraction over the Course of Her Career” (2005) (Adobe Flash)
     
    Also available in:

    RealPlayer
     
    Instructions: Please view this 5 minute clip, and then see close-ups of four works by Georgia O’Keeffe in the collection. 
     
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  • Web Media: University of Virginia: Shelly Staples’ “The Armory Show” Link: University of Virginia: Shelly Staples’ “The Armory Show” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the introduction and view each of the site sections by clicking on image menu at the bottom of the page.
     
    About the site: Shelly Staples created this website the American Studies Program at the University of Virginia in May 2001. 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2 Harlem Renaissance   Note: In 1925, philosopher Alain Locke published an interdisciplinary anthology entitled “The New Negro” that initiated the loose movement, which extended far beyond Harlem.  Overall, Locke advocated the embrace of an African past in the development of new cultural forms.  Please note that this loose movement emerged during WWI and that its formative phase faded with the Depression.  However, the best known works by associated artists date from the 1930s-40s. 

  • Web Media: Institute of Visual Arts and the Hayward Gallery: “Rhapsodies in Black (travelling exhibition, 1997)” Link: Institute of Visual Arts and the Hayward Gallery: Rhapsodies in Black (travelling exhibition, 1997)” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Read through entire site for an overview of the Harlem Renaissance.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: PBS’ “Harlem Renaissance” Link: PBS’ “Harlem Renaissance” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this in-depth discussion of the occasion of the travelling exhibition (above), featuring C. Stewart, William Drummond, and Richard Powell, Associate Professor of art and art history at Duke University and the exhibition’s main curator. 
     
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  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “Aaron Douglas” Link: Wikipedia’s “Aaron Douglas” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this summary on Aaron Douglas, the premier artist of the Harlem Renaissance.  He integrated “modern” European Cubism, African forms, and African American subjects in prints, paintings, and murals.
     
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  • Web Media: Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas: “Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist” (2008) Link: Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas: “Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist” (2008) (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Read through this article on the Aaron Douglas exhibition.
     
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  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “James Van Der Zee” Link:  Wikipedia’s “James Van Der Zee” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this entry on photographer James Van Der Zee.
     
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  • Web Media: Detroit Institute of Art: “James Van Der Zee”; Cleveland Museum of Art: “Van Der Zee”; and Art Institute of Chicago: “Archibald Motley” Link: Detroit Institute of Art: “James Van Der Zee”; (HTML) Cleveland Museum of Art: “Van Der Zee”; (HTML) and Art Institute of Chicago: “Archibald Motley” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please view these images by James Van Der Zee (use the magnifying feature) and Archibald Motley.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation American Art Activity5 Link: The Saylor Foundation American Art Activity 5 (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Consider the main issues in photographic portraiture, such as tensions between “objectivity” and “subjectivity.”   Choose one VanDerZee portrait for a short essay (1 page in length) on messages conveyed through lighting, pose, props, technical manipulation, or context.