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Article

Ellen Paul Denker

[Johann Friedrich]

(b Hettlingen, nr Hannover, Germany, June 26, 1741; d Baltimore, MD, Nov 1, 1798).

American glass manufacturer of German birth. He was associated with his brother’s mirror-glass factory in the town of Grünenplan before his venture to make table wares and utility glass in America began in 1784. With backing from investors in Bremen, Germany, Amelung brought 68 glass craftsmen and furnace equipment to the USA. He purchased an existing glasshouse near Frederick, MD, along with 2100 acres. The factory, which he named the New Bremen Glassmanufactory, had been founded by glassmakers from Henry William Stiegel’s defunct operation in Manheim, PA. It was well situated in western Maryland, not far from Baltimore, which offered a fast-growing market. Many settlers in the area were Germans, who were expected to be supportive of the enterprise. During the following decade Amelung built housing for his 400–500 workers. It is believed that he built four glasshouses.

Although Amelung’s craftsmen made window glass, bottles and table glass, the most important group of objects associated with the factory are the high-quality, wheel-engraved presentation pieces (e.g. sugar bowl, ...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Ilene Susan Fort

[A.A.A.]

American group of painters and sculptors formed in 1936 in New York. Their aim was to promote American abstract art. Similar to the Abstraction–Création group in Europe, this association introduced the public to American abstraction through annual exhibitions, publications and lectures. It also acted as a forum for abstract artists to share ideas. The group, whose first exhibition was held in April 1937 at the Squibb Galleries in New York, insisted that art should be divorced from political or social issues. Its aesthetics were usually identified with synthetic Cubism, and the majority of its members worked in a geometric Cubist-derived idiom of hard-edged forms, applying flat, strong colours. While the group officially rejected Expressionism and Surrealism, its members actually painted in a number of abstract styles. Almost half of the founding members had studied with Hans Hoffmann and infused their geometric styles with surreal, biomorphic forms, while others experimented with ...

Article

Grischka Petri

American institution and art school promoting fine art that was active between 1802 and 1841 in New York. The Academy was the second art academy established in the USA, following the Columbianum Academy of Philadelphia. It was founded in 1802 as the New York Academy of the Fine Arts by its first president, mayor Edward Livingston, and his brother Robert R. Livingston, president from 1804 to 1813. The Academy’s first task was to procure plaster casts from antique statues in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. With the exception of this permanent exhibition, however, the institution largely languished. In 1804 it changed its name to the American Academy of the Arts, finally being incorporated in 1808.

After his return to the USA in 1815, John Trumbull became a main force behind the Academy’s reactivation. In 1816, its first exhibition in new rooms was highly successful. Succeeding DeWitt Clinton as president in ...

Article

M. Sue Kendall

Organization founded in 1936 in the USA in response to the call of the Popular Front and the American Communist Party for formations of literary and artistic groups against the spread of Fascism. In May 1935 a group of New York artists met to draw up the ‘Call for an American Artists’ Congress’; among the initiators were George Ault (1891–1948), Peter Blume, Stuart Davis, Adolph Denn, William Gropper, Jerome Klein, Louis Lozowick (1892–1973), Moses Soyer, Niles Spencer and Harry Sternberg. Davis became one of the most vociferous promoters of the Congress and was not only the national executive secretary but also the editor of the organization’s magazine, Art Front, until 1939.

The dual concerns of the American Artists’ Congress were the economic distress of artists resulting from the depressions of the 1930s and the effect of Fascism in terms of the use of art as war propaganda and the censorship of art. The Congress endorsed the ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

American not-for-profit organization founded in 1909 that initiates and organizes art exhibitions and provides educational and professional programs in collaboration with the museum community. Established by an act of Congress in 1909, after former Secretary of State and US Senator Elihu Root called for the founding of an organization “whose purpose is to promote the study of art, the cultivation of public taste, and the application of art to the development of material conditions in our country,” the American Federation of Arts (AFA) is one of the oldest art organizations in the country and serves nearly 300 museum members in the USA and abroad. Root’s then revolutionary proposal was unanimously endorsed by representatives of 80 American art institutions in attendance. Among the 35 founders, in addition to Root, were presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, as well as artist William Merritt Chase and businessmen Mellon family §(1), and J(ohn) Pierpont Morgan...

Article

Isabel L. Taube

Term applied variously to describe a specific style, movement, and artistic affiliation embraced by American artists from about 1885 to 1920. Impressionism began in France in the early 1870s and later spread throughout Europe and the USA. While artists continue to paint in an Impressionist style today, art historians generally use the term American Impressionism to refer to an historical tendency that gained prominence and flourished during the last decades of the 19th century and first decades of the 20th. Impressionism began as a radical reaction to more conservative approaches to painting, and only in the early 20th century did it become a mainstream style in comparison with other developments in modern art. American Impressionism included a diversity of approaches, usually attributed to geographic and regional differences.

Impressionism as an art movement and style began when a group of painters, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Renoir, became frustrated with the traditional criteria favoured by the official French government-sponsored exhibitions and joined together to organize an independent show of their work in Paris in ...

Article

Ellen Paul Denker

American pottery manufacturer. Beginning in 1828 D. & J. Henderson made award-winning Rockingham in a factory previously occupied by the Jersey Porcelain and Earthenware Co. in Jersey City, NJ, but in 1833 David Henderson (c. 1793–1845) took control of the company and changed the name to the American Pottery Manufacturing Co. (see fig.). In addition to the fine Rockingham modelled by the Englishman Daniel Greatbach (fl after 1839; d after 1866), the company was the first to make transfer-printed pearlware in the USA and c. 1833 reproduced Ridgway’s ‘Canova’ pattern. Many English potters who settled in the USA during the second quarter of the 19th century started their American careers in Henderson’s pottery. After Henderson’s death in 1845, the firm continued until 1852, when John Owen Rouse (d 1896) and Nathaniel Turner (d 1884) took over the works for the production of whiteware, which was made there until ...

Article

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

Roy R. Behrens

[ Ames, Adelbert, II ]

(b Lowell, MA, Aug 19, 1880; d Hanover, NH, July 3, 1955).

American artist, optical physiologist and perceptual psychologist . Born to an affluent upper-class family, both his father, Adelbert Ames sr, and his maternal grandfather, Benjamin F. Butler, were distinguished Union generals during the American Civil War, while the latter was also a presidential candidate in 1884. Ames himself was trained as a lawyer at Harvard University (1899–1906), where his most influential professor was the philosopher William James (1842–1910). At 30, disillusioned with law and disappointed in love, he radically re-shaped his life. He abandoned his law career and withdrew from his engagement to Margaret (Peggy) James, the daughter of William James. Determined to become an artist, he transformed a police wagon into a makeshift mobile home in which to travel, paint and sleep. At the same time, he was hired by the Shawmut Bank of Boston to create a bust of an heroic Native American leader for use as the company’s trademark. While engaged in this, he shared a studio with his sister, Blanche Ames Ames (...

Article

Leah Lipton

(b Framingham, MA, May 5, 1768; d Albany, NY, Feb 23, 1836).

American painter and craftsman. After working briefly in Worcester, MA (1790–93), painting miniatures, chimney-pieces, signs and sleighs, he settled permanently in Albany, NY. There he practised various crafts, including framemaking and painting ornamental clockfaces. Active in the Masonic Temple, he held a high position in the New York chapter from 1802 to 1826. For the Masons he made signs, aprons, urns and carpet designs. Entries in his account books indicate that by 1813 he was primarily painting portraits, improving his technique by copying works by John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart. His first major success was the sale of a portrait of George Clinton, Governor of New York and vice-president of the USA, to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1812; destr. 1845). Laudatory reviews generated requests for replicas, including an ambitious but somewhat awkward full-length version (c. 1813; Albany, NY, State Capitol). Ames also painted the official portrait of George Clinton’s nephew, ...

Article

(b Quebec, Qué., Aug 10, 1764; d Quebec, Qué., June 3, 1839).

Canadian metalworker. He studied at the Petit Seminaire du Québec from 1778 to 1780 and began his apprenticeship c. 1780 in the silversmith’s shop of his elder brother, Jean-Nicolas Amiot (1750–1821); the tradition that he was apprenticed to François Ranvoyzé is unfounded. In 1782 he travelled to Paris to complete his training and remained there for five years, supported by his family. He absorbed the Louis XVI style, then popular in France, and after his return to Quebec in 1787 he set up a workshop to introduce this into Canada.

Much of Amiot’s work was for the Church, reworking traditional forms in the Louis XVI style. In a sanctuary lamp of 1788 for the church at Repentigny he elongated the standard shape and decorated it with a balanced arrangement of Neo-classical designs. After 1800 his work became formulaic and less innovative, though there are such notable exceptions as the chalice (...

Article

Matico Josephson

(Hermann)

(b Schaffenhausen, Switzerland, 1879; d New York, NY, 1965).

American civil engineer of Swiss origin and education. Amman was born in Schaffhausen and educated at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, from which he graduated in 1902. After brief employment in Swiss and German steel and bridge construction firms, his ambition led him to move to the USA in 1904.

Arriving in New York, Ammann quickly found work in the office of consulting engineer Joseph Mayer, for whom he would work for only six months. Between 1904 and 1907, Ammann worked for the Pennsylvania Steel Company, in Harrisburg, and Chicago bridge engineer Ralph Modjeski, before settling in Philadelphia as consultant for the engineering firm of Kunz and Schneider. Ammann’s trajectory put him in contact with leading designers of long-span bridges and the most important steel construction problems of his time. At Pennsylvania Steel, Ammann worked on the construction of engineer Gustav Lindenthal’s Queensboro Bridge in New York, and his first job for Kunz and Schneider was to study the failure of the Quebec Bridge in ...

Article

Joan Marter

(b Atlanta, GA, March 16, 1938).

African American painter, printmaker, and weaver. Amos studied fine arts and textile weaving at Antioch College at Yellow Springs, OH, where she received her BFA in 1958. She went on to study etching and painting at the Central School of Art, London (1958–9), and the following year she moved to New York, where she began working at two printmaking studios: Robert Blackburn’s workshop and that of Letterio Calapai (an outpost of Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17). She completed her MA at New York University (NYU) in 1966. Through Hale Woodruff, an art professor at NYU and family friend, she was invited to exhibit with Spiral, an all-male art group founded by Woodruff and Romare Bearden and featuring recognized African American artists. Spiral, closely allied with the Civil Rights movement, dissolved in 1967 and subsequently Amos had trouble exhibiting her work. In 1974, after the birth of her two children, Amos found a position as an instructor in textile design at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts. She continued her own weaving in New York and benefited from the revival of interest in women’s traditional art forms in the early years of the feminist art movement....

Article

Anasazi  

[Navajo: ‘the ancient ones’]

Term applied to the prehistoric ‘Basketmakers’ (fl to c. ad 750) of the south-western United States and their successors, the Pueblo tribes, who still live in the region. The Anasazi are famous for their communal buildings, many now ruined, which were known as ‘pueblos’ by the first Spanish explorers (see Native North American art, §II, 2). The most celebrated of these stone and adobe structures were multi-room, multi-family dwellings built atop mesas and in natural caves found at the base of canyons (see fig.). Built c. 1100–c. 1300, they are located at various sites, including Mesa Verde in south-west Colorado and Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico. The Anasazi also produced painted pottery, basketry, and weaving.

Article

David Tatham

(b New York, April 21, 1775; d Jersey City, NJ, Jan 17, 1870).

American wood-engraver. Anderson was the first important American wood-engraver. He was self-taught and made woodcuts for newspapers at the age of 12. Between c. 1792 and 1798, when he studied and practised medicine, he engraved wood as a secondary occupation, but following the death of his family in the yellow fever epidemic of 1798, he abandoned medicine and worked as a graphic artist. He was an early follower of Thomas Bewick’s white-line style. He usually engraved the designs of others, such as Benjamin West, but he was a skilful and original draughtsman, as can be seen in his illustrations for Durell’s edition of Homer’s Iliad (New York, 1808). He exhibited frequently at the American Academy and was a founder-member of the National Academy of Design (1825). Anderson spent his long and prolific career in New York, engraving mainly for book publishers and magazines but also producing pictorial matter for printed ephemera. He worked steadily until the late 1850s, cut his last blocks in ...

Article

(b Chicago, June 5, 1947).

American performance artist, sculptor, draughtsman, and writer. She completed her BA in art history at Barnard College, New York, in 1969 and had her first one-woman show there in 1970, exhibiting sculptures and drawings among other works. She then trained as a sculptor at Columbia University, New York, receiving her MFA in 1972. Much of her work has built on her childhood instruction as a classical violinist, and she achieved popular notoriety in 1981 when her song ‘O Superman’ became a popular hit in England. Her first performance piece, Automotive, took place in 1972 at Town Green in Rochester, VT, and involved a concert of car horns. In 1974 she staged another music-based performance entitled Duets on Ice in which she appeared at four different locations on New York sidewalks wearing a pair of ice skates with their blades frozen in blocks of ice, and she proceeded to play one of several altered violins until the ice melted into water. In subsequent years, she has continued to work primarily as a performance artist, using projected photographs, films, texts, and music to create technologically sophisticated and elaborately staged events. Many of these performances have featured instruments of her own invention. The most famous of these was a violin with a recording head on its body and a strip of audio tape in the place of the hairs on its bow. This piece allowed her to play the human voice as an instrument by changing its speed and cadence with the movements of her arm. The most complex and spectacular of her performances, ...

Article

Jeremy Lewison

(b Quincy, MA, Sept 16, 1935).

American sculptor. He attended the Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, from 1951 to 1953, and in 1954 he visited England, where he was greatly impressed by Stonehenge. From 1955 to 1956 he served in the US Army; in 1957 he moved to New York, where he began to write poetry. He also made drawings and sculpture in Perspex and wood. He met Frank Stella in 1958 and in 1959 he shared his studio where he made large sculptures, such as Last Ladder (wood, 2.14×1.55×1.55 m; 1959; London, Tate). The Black Paintings on which Stella was working had a considerable influence on Andre both for their non-referentiality and for their symmetrical and non-hierarchic compositions, in which no part was given more emphasis than any other. Andre’s totemic wooden sculptures, such as Ladder No. 2 (wood, 2.1×0.15×0.15 m, 1959; London, Tate), are indebted to Constantin Brancusi but were cut rather than carved. Many of them were constructed according to what Andre called structural building principles, in which elements were stacked and interlocked....

Article

Nancy G. Heller

In 

Article

Deborah Cullen

(b Plainview, GA, Nov 13, 1930; d Brooklyn, New York, Nov 10, 2006).

African American painter, collagist, printmaker, and art advocate. Benny Andrews grew up under segregation in the rural South, one of 10 children in a sharecropper’s family. After graduating from high school, he served in the US Air Force. Afterwards, through the GI Bill of Rights, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his BFA. In 1958, he moved to New York. Andrews received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship (1965–6) as well as a CAPS award from the New York State Council on the Arts (1971). From 1968 to 1997, he taught at Queens College, City University of New York and created a prison arts program that became a national model. In 1969, Andrews co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), an organization that protested against the Harlem on my Mind exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Between ...