By Thomas Gaehtgens
American painters and photograph artists of the eighteenth and 19th centuries sought suggestion for his or her paintings within the uniquely American adventure of heritage and nature. the outcome used to be a metamorphosis of the normal previous international visible language into an indigenous and populist New global syntax. The twelve essays during this quantity discover the improvement of a frontier mythology, a democratic type depicting universal humans and gadgets, and an American creative attention and id. Conceived and written from the views of either cultural and artwork historians, American Icons initiates an interdisciplinary dialogue at the complicated relationships among American and eu paintings.
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Extra info for American Icons: Transatlantic Perspectives on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century American Art (Issues & Debates)
12 It may be that the familiarity of the three Capitol "Landings" preempted further artistic examination of the theme or that the ubiquity of the subject in the popular arts exhausted its appeal. Whatever the case, although the print industry continued to turn out the scene, no major new works represented the Landing of Columbus until the turn of the century. Then, prompted no doubt by the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, large paintings and public monuments once again took up the topic.
Using the fine and popular arts of the present as well as the past century as an index, one can conclude that in the United States Columbus has been perceived as Christian but not popish; of European heritage but detachable from any foreign ties, even those of the Spanish monarchy; a heroic individualist, yet one who served others. He eventually became a man so obviously destined to found the American Republic that artistic license nudging the place of his disembarkation to the north and west of the Caribbean has seemed not out of keeping with Columbus's original intentions.
1 As a correction of current views, this is useful and necessary. In academic discourse, however, established positions are not that readily discarded. I think it justifiable, therefore, to assume the European role once more — playing a kind of devil's advocate. In the following discussion of American history painters working in England at the end of the eighteenth century, I shall argue that the novelty of American history painting — so abundantly stressed in recent critical discussion — is not so much a specifically American phenomenon but instead follows an English tradition and is part of a general change of the European conception of painting in the late eighteenth century.