Who are some of the most revered and disliked individuals in America? Art critics of course. I never fail to be amazed at the elastic reputations of certain art critics whose opinions seem to carry enormous weight one day while the next their ideas appear as puffy words caught uncontrolled in the culture in the so-called critic’s “lack of consistency”. I am acquainted with many artists, art historians, curators, art consultants, collectors, art dealers, art writers and yes, art critics. Generally speaking most of these experts agree that a lack of consistency on the part of the critic is the chief reason for the dwindling of his or her professional authority. This authority is partly earned from the distillation of inaccurate principle. Distilled, for the common critic’s reputation is based upon his useful explanations superior of the art-work.Read More
The recent article in the Newtown Bee by Stephen May on the 1913 Armory Show (seen in New York, Chicago and Boston) provides a very worthy overview to say the least. May has correctly presented this famous show as a cultural event which shook the nation’s art-loving crowd. Furthermore, he has pointed out that American art would never be the same because the exhibition included Europe’s most avant-garde art, especially Cubism. Of course the show was highlighted by Duchamp’s unprecedented painting which was the brunt of rude critics and observers in general. Yet, in spite of the hullabaloo created over the 1913 Armory Show, its influence was in fact the most indelible known to this nation’s cultural community until the advent of the next great movement, abstract expressionism. I should point out however that many of those American artists who pursued the cutting edge in their art have been forgotten in the past century when our ancestors were shocked by the art being made in Europe. To know about the armory show is to love American art.Read More
Have you thought at times that technology, in spite of its usefulness, has also encroached upon your peace of mind, your serenity, your need for inspiration from sources other than television and the internet? If so, you probably shared the feelings of Americans who more than a century ago became weary of the many new inventions that were intended to make life better as the industrial revolution evolved.
These were not old fogies who couldn’t deal with inevitable change, for they welcomed progress, but they were also romanticists unwilling to trade nature for technological advancement. Art historians have referred to them as Tonalists.Read More
“Local and specific” refers to the post-Hudson River School focus away from grandiose and Sublime imagery of America’s wilderness toward specific areas of the landscape: quiet, intimate corners of land with which the artist is personally familiar. The most intimate landscape was both more informal and less composed.Read More
It was the period of the women’s suffrage movement at the turn of the century…
The fight for equality in the field of Fine Art was just as difficult as their fight for the vote. For the most part, American women painters who worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries got a raw deal from their male counterparts. Their unenviable lot in life owed mostly to male chauvinism inside and outside of the art community. It was bad enough for a talented, beginning male student but nearly impossible for a young woman to become a successful professional artist. The odds were not in their favor. Usually their efforts, regardless of quality, were sidestepped by the art hierarchy because they were looked upon not as serious art students but as pretty young things seeking husbands.
“It was a way of life in a special world for the successful artist of the late nineteenth century; art and life were one, and the pursuit of harmony and tranquility were goals of living as well as painting.”
Richard J. Boyle, “American Impressionism,” 1974 [p. 179]
Such an idealistic quest was part of the American Genteel Tradition. The ultimate goal was to become financially successful, to fit into society, and to enjoy such luxuries as owning summer homes, hiring cooks and servants, and traveling world-wide to exotic painting locales. No longer a romantic, eccentric recluse, the successful American artist was invariably a well-groomed, business-minded cosmopolitan who knew how to market his “product” and to promote himself (or in some cases, herself) through networking in organizations and exhibitions.Read More
Without a doubt, the question I’m asked most frequently is how one arrives at a “value” for a picture. Of course, a purist would declare that every art-image has value, if only to its creator. But usually, the V-word (value) is attached only to the monetary considerations of the painting. Therefore, one who determines monetary evaluation of art must consider a variety of factors. While a few of these are determined a priori, therefore subjective, and falling within the parameters of connoisseurship, most factors are objective. Assuming access to certain standard research facilities factors (listed after the break) should provide the best basis for determining the monetary value of a painting.Read More
Our democracy has evolved celebrating religious holidays, which have become traditional. We all take time off from our routines to celebrate a few patriotic holidays such as the Fourth of July and Presidents’ Day. Our schedules often include recognition of unofficial holidays: Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, even Sweetest Day. The common denominator in all of these “Days of Honor” is our wish to recognize, even celebrate events and the achievements of individuals or groups who have contributed significantly to the history of this nation.
But what about the value of the contributions of American artists? What about the worth of their careers, which many pursued unselfishly at extreme sacrifice? Surely our great public museums and private collections are testaments to the value of our nation’s artistic talents. Do our artists not deserve a national day of recognition?Read More
Part of President FDR’s New Deal program, designed to combat the Great Depression, involved a project that was known as the Public Works of Art Project. It called for a six-month plan by government subsidy of artists and ran from December 1933 through June 1934. Painters and others were paid to make art.
I find myself wondering if a similar program would work in today’s world. Shall the government pay painters to make art? Should tax dollars go for those cultural products? Is the subsidy of art a worthy comparison to health care?Read More
The next time you’re mingling at a party or at any gathering of culturally-minded individuals, ask them to name five American artists quickly, much as they might rattle off the names of the latest movie, car or computer. Chances are, you’ll get no name at all, or ones like Picasso, even Monet. No, that wouldn’t happen, not in circles of educated Americans. Oh yes it can, dear reader.
The truth is that all too many Americans are unaware of their artistic heritage, ironically in deference to the artistic tradition of Mother Europe. Why is this so? Because Americans have always and still do consider themselves the offspring of Europe’s aesthetic legacy.Read More
Its real meaning should be important to everyone who studies art beyond the level of general interest. Arguably the best method by which one inculcates the substance of the term comes from repetitious hands-on experience with actual art objects. The physicality of the work must come under the scrutiny of the human eye and scientific eyes. Ultimately one’s goal in this pursuit is to identify styles and sources and to discover influences, which provides unquestionable authentication of art pieces. As one becomes practiced in such matters, the work of one or a few artists becomes the connoisseur’s focus. Then, qualitative judgments may be put forth in an effort to establish canon values as they relate to their art.
During the past few weeks, comparatively large and comprehensive sales of American art took place in New York auction houses and elsewhere. Notwithstanding current skeptics, results exceeded expectations. Not only were a high percentage of works sold but also a striking amount of buyers bid quite beyond the pre-sale estimates. Should we view these auctions as the genesis of a trend, a harbinger of things to come in the American art market? Might we carry our conclusion even a step farther, seeing these sales as a barometer of the whole American economy?Read More