By Thomas Gaehtgens
American painters and picture artists of the eighteenth and 19th centuries sought concept for his or her paintings within the uniquely American event of background and nature. the end result was once a metamorphosis of the traditional outdated global visible language into an indigenous and populist New international syntax. The twelve essays during this quantity discover the advance of a frontier mythology, a democratic variety depicting universal humans and gadgets, and an American inventive realization and id. Conceived and written from the views of either cultural and artwork historians, American Icons initiates an interdisciplinary dialogue at the advanced relationships among American and ecu artwork.
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Extra info for American Icons: Transatlantic Perspectives on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century American Art (Issues & Debates)
It was by them learned by rote, and perhaps better learned that way than by precept. 2 I shall attempt to show in a detailed analysis of a single painting by John Singleton Copley what consequences such consciousness and the recourse to the dictionary of a lost language of art had for the American-English art of the late eighteenth century. It will be necessary, however, occasionally to 36 C O P L E Y , WEST, AND THE T R A D I T I O N OF E U R O P E A N HIGH ART broaden the context to include Benjamin West and, beyond West, William Hogarth, in order to show the relevance, in this context, of a genuinely English tradition.
5045. GROSECLOSE landed "Indians" because, in the ecstasy of the moment, he thought that he had found what he sought. Most Westerners know the word "Indian" reveals that Columbus did not in fact realize where he was. Such is the flexibility of myth, however, that it has been possible to acknowledge his error without relinquishing the belief that his achievement lay in his ability to discover what became the United States of America. And such is the empowerment to be gleaned from myths of beginning that Americans could use as part of their arsenal of symbolic sanctions for the destruction of the native inhabitants the image of Columbus, destroyer of the Native Americans in the first encounter of the races.
These monument commissions were not the result of increased prosperity nor of patriotism among immigrants but a profound reflection of Columbus's symbolic role in the new kingdom of Italy. Occasionally, bas-reliefs on the pedestals of these monuments — that in New York's Columbus Circle, for example — include a Landing scene, but the overall impact of the solitary figure is that discrete episodes in Columbus's history count little against the overwhelming significance of the man as an individual, an Italian, who was seen by his compatriots during the Risorgimento as a figurehead for a new Italian nation.