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M. Sue Kendall

Term used to describe scenes of typical American life painted in a naturalistic vein from c. 1920 until the early 1940s. It applies to both Regionalism and Social Realism in American painting, but its specific boundaries remain ambiguous. The phrase probably derived from Henry James’s collection of essays and impressions, The American Scene (London, 1907), published upon James’s own rediscovery of his native land after 21 years as an expatriate. The term entered the vocabulary of fine arts by the 1920s and was applied to the paintings of Charles Burchfield during 1924.

In the two decades following World War I, American writers and artists began to look for native sources for the aesthetic and spiritual renewal of their modern technological civilization. This search engaged and activated many thoughtful and creative people in the 1920s and 1930s and resulted in that flurry of activity that Waldo Frank (1889–1967) discussed as ...

Article

Camara Dia Holloway

(b Virginia, 1825; d Honolulu, HI, May 3, 1904).

African American photographer. Ball’s parents, William and Susan Ball, were freeborn Americans of African descent. J. P. Ball learned how to make daguerreotypes from a black Bostonian, John P. Bailey. He opened his first photographic enterprise in Cincinnati, OH, in 1845. Black-owned businesses seemed viable in this abolitionist stronghold and key conduit to the West. After a failed first venture and time as an itinerant photographer, he returned and opened Ball’s Great Daguerrean Gallery of the West in 1849, which became one of the largest and most successful photographic studios in the region with an enthusiastic multi-racial clientele. Ball hired other African Americans as operators, including his brother, Thomas Ball, his brother-in-law, Alexander Thomas, and the African American landscape painter, Robert S. Duncanson.

An activist for abolition, Ball produced a painted panorama that illustrated the history of African enslavement in 1855 and authored the accompanying pamphlet to great acclaim. With a national reputation and important portrait commissions from such cultural icons as Frederick Douglass and Jenny Lind, Ball expanded with a second studio operated by his brother-in-law who had become a favorite with clients. Together they started an additional studio, the Ball & Thomas Photographic Art Gallery. Ball’s Cincinnati enterprises survived well into the 1880s in the hands of Thomas and other Ball relatives since they remained current with photographic technologies....

Article

Claudio  

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Born in Seville.

Painter. Genre scenes.

Claudio was a representative in the 1960s of the popular vein of painting influenced by Social Realism, led by the Seville-born artist Cortijo. Starting from an everyday realism, he paid more and more attention to portraying the critically intimist side of his subjects and, as he said, to representing: 'Middle-class man, integrated into the poor taste of a consumer society'....

Article

British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 27 July 1926, in London; died 16 December 2004.

Painter, draughtsman. Landscapes, domestic life.

Social Realism, New Realism.

Peter Coker studied in London at St Martin’s School of Art (1941-1943) before enlisting in the Fleet Air Arm (...

Article

Andrea Kann

(b Cedar Rapids, IA, Oct 21, 1891; d Cedar Rapids, IA, May 18, 1965).

American painter. Cone began his career painting still-lifes, landscapes, clouds, and barns, and later explored circuses, deserted interiors, and abstractions. Cone is often labelled a Regionalist (see Regionalism), but did not use this term to describe his own work. He was familiar with artistic developments in both America and Europe, yet his trajectory of themes remained distinctly his own. Cone’s compositions evolved over time, gradually distilling representation into hidden complexity.

Cone, a close friend of Grant Wood, spent most of his life in Cedar Rapids, IA. Both of them were active in the local arts community and the Stone City Art Colony (1932–3) with Edward Rowan of The Little Gallery. Cone and Wood also travelled to France together (1920), exploring Impressionist styles.

Cone graduated from Coe College, Cedar Rapids, in 1914, then studied at the Art Institute of Chicago until enlisting in the US Army in ...

Article

Cortijo  

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Active in Seville.

Painter.

Cortijo was the principal representative of Social Realism in Spain.

Article

Charlotte Moser

(b Utica, NY, Sept 26, 1862; d Florence, Oct 24, 1928).

American painter and illustrator. He first trained as an architectural draughtsman at the Academy of Design, Chicago (1878). After studying briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago, he went to New York, where he attended the Gotham School and the Art Students League (1886–8). By 1887 he was working as an illustrator for Century magazine. A realist landscape painter in the 19th-century academic tradition, he was influenced by the painters of the Hudson River school and particularly by the luminist, dream-like landscapes of George Inness.

Around 1900 Davies’s paintings became Symbolist in style, with the introduction of mystical nude figures in the landscape, as in Meeting in the Forest (1900; Montclair, NJ, A. Mus.) and Autumn—Enchanted Salutation (1907; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.). Themes combining Classical figures and landscape, which evolved in a mythical classicist style reminiscent of the work of Puvis de Chavannes, typified Davies’s work throughout his career. Increasingly drawn to ancient art and Greco-Roman civilization, he eventually identified the archaic with modernism, for example in ...

Article

Margaret Moore Booker

(b Cincinnati, OH, Jan 31, 1875; d Sellersville, PA, Sept 4, 1955).

American printmaker and illustrator. Among the pioneer generation of women printmakers in America, she was known for her humorous satires of the American scene. Raised in New Orleans, she moved to San Francisco where she studied art at the Hopkins Institute (c. 1896–7) and joined the Sketch Club (a professional organization that offered exhibition and collaboration opportunities for women).

By 1903 she had settled in Greenwich Village. Three years later she married the painter and etcher Eugene Higgins (1874–1958), and set aside her career. When the marriage ended 11 years later, she became a secretary of the Whitney Studio Club (where she attended evening sketch sessions), shed her married name and traveled abroad. During a trip to Paris in 1926–7, she discovered the medium that suited her artistic temperament: lithography, and studied the technique with Edouard Dûchatel (fl 1880s–1930s) in Paris.

After returning to New York, in ...

Article

Lee M. Edwards

(b Liverpool, Oct 18, 1844; d London, Feb 27, 1927).

English painter and illustrator. He first studied art at the Mechanics Institute in Liverpool and at the nearby Warrington School of Art. In 1863 he won a scholarship that enabled him to study at the South Kensington Art School in London and subsequently at the Royal Academy Schools. By the late 1860s he was earning money as an illustrator for such popular periodicals as the Cornhill Magazine and Once a Week.

Fildes’s illustration Houseless and Hungry, which appeared as a wood-engraving in the first issue of the Graphic (4 Dec 1869), a socially conscious weekly, was the turning-point of his career. The engraving depicts homeless paupers queuing outside the casual ward of a workhouse. When it was shown to Charles Dickens by John Everett Millais, the author commissioned Fildes to illustrate his novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The unfinished book was published posthumously in 1870 with a set of 12 illustrations by Fildes....

Article

M. Sue Kendall

(b Philadelphia, PA, March 13, 1870; d Westport, CT, May 22, 1938).

American painter and illustrator. He graduated in 1889 from Central High School, Philadelphia, where he had known Albert C. Barnes, who later became a noted collector of modern art. He became a reporter–illustrator for the Philadelphia Record in 1891 and later for the Philadelphia Press. In 1892 he began to attend evening classes in drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Thomas Anshutz. In the same year he became a friend and follower of Robert Henri, who persuaded him to take up oil painting in 1894. Henri’s other students, some of whom were referred to as the Ashcan school, included George Luks, Everett Shinn and John Sloan, also artist–reporters; together with Henri they formed the nucleus of Eight, the.

Glackens and Henri shared a studio in Philadelphia in 1894 and travelled together in Europe in 1895. On returning to the USA in 1896, Glackens followed Henri’s lead in moving to New York and supported himself by producing illustrations for the ...

Article

M. Sue Kendall

[Cozad, Robert Henry]

(b Cincinnati, OH, June 24, 1865; d July 12, 1929).

American painter and teacher (see fig.). He changed his name in 1883 after his father killed someone; in honour of his French ancestry, Henri adopted his own middle name as a surname, taking the French spelling but insisting all his life that it be pronounced in the American vernacular. After living with his family in Denver, CO, and New York, in 1886 he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, where he studied with Thomas Anshutz and Thomas Hovenden. In 1888 he attended the Académie Julian in Paris, where he received criticism from the French painters William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. He returned to Philadelphia in 1891 and painted in an Impressionist manner, for example Girl Seated by the Sea (1893; Mr and Mrs Raymond J. Horowitz priv. col., see Homer, pl. 1).

In 1895 Henri returned to Europe and adopted a dark-toned, broadly brushed style influenced by Velázquez, Frans Hals and the early paintings of Manet. His portrait studies in this style were accepted in the Paris Salons of ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1910, in Philadelphia; died 1981, in New York.

Painter (gouache), watercolourist. Figures, nudes, genre scenes.

Social Realism.

At the age of seventeen, Joseph Hirsch won a scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art and later went on to study privately under Henry Hensche in Provincetown and George Luks in New York. In the 1930s he undertook several commissions for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia, notably for the city's Municipal Court. During World War II he was employed in the war effort and sent to Pensacola Naval Air Station to document naval aviation training. He followed the Navy to the South Pacific where he recorded the efforts of the medical corps before being posted to the Italian front and North Africa with the Army. After the war he taught at the Chicago Art Institute, the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He won many awards, including a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1909, in St Louis; died 1963, in Morristown (New Jersey).

Painter, watercolourist, printmaker. Landscapes, still-lifes.

Social Realism.

Joe Jones's worked as a house painter from the age of 14 and received no formal artistic training. He joined the Communist party in the 1930s and left St Louis where his Social Realist paintings of Midwestern farm labourers and industrial workers were at odds with the conservative status quo. Jones settled in New York where he worked for the Public Works of Art Project. In ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1912, in Baltimore; died 1994, in Provincetown.

Painter.

Social Realism.

Mervin Jules studied at Baltimore City College, the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts and under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League in New York. He taught at Smith College ...

Article

Josephine Gabler

(b Königsberg, Germany [now Kaliningrad, Russia], July 8, 1867; d Moritzburg, nr Dresden, April 22, 1945).

German printmaker and sculptor. She received her first art tuition from Rudolph Mauer (1845–1905) in Königsberg in 1881. She continued her training in 1885 in Berlin under Karl Stauffer-Bern and in 1888 under Ludwig Herterich (1856–1932) in Munich. Influenced by the prints of Max Klinger, which had been brought to her attention by Stauffer-Bern, she devoted herself to this form and gave up painting after 1890. She first produced etchings (see Woman with Dead Child, 1903) and lithographs but later also woodcuts. From 1891 she lived in Berlin where she had her first success: the portfolio of three lithographs and three etchings, A Weavers’ Revolt (1895–8; Washington, DC, N.G.A.), inspired by Gerhard Hauptmann’s play Die Weber, was shown at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung. Kollwitz joined the Secession in Berlin and was appointed to a special teaching post at the Künstlerinnenschule.

Kollwitz was indebted stylistically to naturalism, but her preferred subject-matter was linked to the emerging workers’ movement. Her prints on themes of social comment were carried out predominantly in black and white. However, her training as a painter had initially exerted considerable influence on her style. This changed around the turn of the century. Abandoning natural surroundings, she concentrated on different ways of representing the human body. It was then that a sculptural sensibility became decisive for her graphic forms. The first expression of this changing style was the etching ...

Article

Janet Marstine

(b Halifax, NS, March 22, 1873; d Miami, FL, Dec 18, 1939).

American painter of Canadian birth. He first studied art in 1888 at the Art League School of Kansas City, MO. The following year he attended the Academia de Bellas Artes de S Carlos in Mexico City, while working as an engineering draughtsman. In 1891 he moved to New York and took classes from John H. Twachtman and J. Alden Weir. Under their tutelage at the Art Students League and at Cos Cob, CT, Lawson painted landscapes in a loosely brushed Impressionist style, exploring the transitory effects of light. In 1893 Lawson went to Paris, where he lived with the writer Somerset Maugham; Maugham based the character Frederick Lawson in his novel Of Human Bondage (1915) on the artist. Lawson briefly attended the Académie Julian and then studied independently, particularly the works of Cézanne and Sisley.

Lawson returned to New York in 1898. He used thick impasto, strong contour lines, and large areas of bold yet harmonious colour to create highly structured compositions, as in ...

Article

Janet Marstine

(Benjamin)

(b Williamsport, PA, Aug 13, 1867; d New York, Oct 29, 1933).

American painter and draughtsman. He lived as a child in the mining town of Shenandoah, PA, but moved to Philadelphia in 1883. The facts of his early career were later confused by the wild stories fabricated by him. After a short stint in vaudeville, he spent a year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. From 1885 he was in Europe, living most of the next decade in Düsseldorf, Munich, Paris, and London, intermittently attending German and French art academies. In 1894 Luks became an artist–reporter for the Philadelphia Press, where he befriended Robert Henri, John Sloan, William J. Glackens, and Everett Shinn. In late 1895 he went to Cuba as a war correspondent; the following year he moved to New York and joined the staff of the New York World as a cartoonist.

In 1897 Luks began to paint. Working with dark, slashing strokes, akin to the style of Henri, he sympathetically portrayed New York’s social outcasts, as in the ...

Article

L. I. Iovleva

(Maksimovich)

(b Lopino, nr Novaya Ladoga, St Petersburg region, Jan 29, 1844; d St Petersburg, Dec 1, 1911).

Russian painter. The son of a peasant, he studied in the school for monastery novices and apprentice icon painters and entered the St Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1863. He had a passion for drawing and a strong sympathy with the growing tendency in Russian art towards realism and social criticism. He retained a deep relationship with the Russian countryside, and the life of the peasantry formed an important and constant theme in his work. In 1866, having completed the course of academic instruction, and following Ivan Kramskoy and the ‘secession of the 14’ in 1863, Maksimov refused to compete for the Grand Gold Medal and the right to a bursary for foreign travel, and he moved to a residence in the country, first in Tver’ province, then from 1868 in the village of Chernavino in Novaya Ladoga district. Here Maksimov began enthusiastically producing pictures of the Russian peasantry, in whom he felt he found the living source of truth. In the painting ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1904; died 1979.

Painter. Figures, local scenes, seascapes.

Woodstock Artists' Colony.

Fletcher Martin was a Californian Social Realist painter who settled in Los Angeles. He visited Woodstock for the first time in 1932, and after working as a war correspondent for ...

Article

Ursula Zeller

[Ger.: ‘new objectivity’]

Term applied to the representative art that was developed in Germany in the 1920s by artists including Max Beckmann (see fig.), Otto Dix and George Grosz. The term Magic Realism is associated but not directly related to it. The use of ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ may derive from the Dutch word zakelijkheid, which was used from c. 1900 to describe the work of such Dutch architects as H. P. Berlage; this was followed by nieuwe zakelijkheid used from 1923 to indicate the reaction against Expressionism in architecture. The political events in Europe and the general mood to which they gave rise influenced painting, design and photography (e.g. the work of Albert Renger-Patzsch), as well as architecture. Despite the wide significance of objectivity at this time, the term applies primarily to a movement in German painting, and it is this with which this article is primarily concerned.

Neue Sachlichkeit was ‘new’ in so far as it was in contradistinction to 19th-century Naturalism and the work of the Nazarenes, and it was frequently characterized by a satirical social realism. The general mood in Germany in the 1920s was conditioned by the experience of World War I. The war fever that artists had depicted, mainly in an Expressionist style, subsided after the first months in the battlefields: the cruelty and senselessness of war was to become a recurrent theme in the work of Neue Sachlichkeit artists. Moreover, the sobering effect of both the war and the failure of the revolutionary events in Germany in ...