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Sarah J. Weatherwax

(b Geneva, Switzerland, Sept 18, 1737; d Philadelphia, PA, Oct 10, 1784).

American painter, draftsman, collector and museum proprietor of Swiss birth. Du Simitière, the son of Jean-Henri Ducimitière (or Dusimitière), an East Indies broker and Judith-Ulrique Cunegonde Delorme, studied art at the University of Geneva. In 1757 he left Amsterdam for the West Indies to document and sketch native flora and fauna and to collect historical materials, launching more than a decade of traveling and collecting in the New World including stops of varying lengths in New York City, Charleston, SC, Burlington, NJ, Boston, MA, Newport, RI, and Philadelphia, PA. In 1769 Du Simitière became a naturalized American citizen, living in Philadelphia (except for a two year sojourn in the West Indies) from 1770 until his death in 1784.

Du Simitière planned to write a natural and civil history of the West Indies and North America based on the large quantities of books, cartoons, manuscripts, coins, newspapers, natural history specimens, broadsides and art he amassed during his travels, but that project never came to fruition. In ...

Article

Oldest and largest photography museum in the United States, located in Rochester, NY. Since it opened its doors to the public in November 1949, George Eastman House has played a pivotal role in shaping and expanding the field of American photography. George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, never knew his home would become a museum; he bequeathed the mansion where he lived from 1905 until 1932 to the University of Rochester to serve as the residence of its president. In 1946 a board of trustees was formed to establish George Eastman House as an independent, non-profit museum, a memorial to Eastman and his advancements in photographic technology.

Working under director Oscar Solbert, a retired US Army general and former Kodak executive, was the museum’s first curator, Beaumont Newhall. Newhall transformed the museum from one primarily concerned with the technical applications of photography to one emphasizing its artistic development. The museum became an international centre of scholarship, and in ...

Article

Ronald J. Onorato

(Morrison)

(b Hartford, CT, Nov 12, 1864; d Wickford, RI, Jan 1, 1943).

American architect, preservationist, and author. Isham was one of the earliest American architects to specialize in the restoration of colonial American structures. He worked on a large number of 17th- and 18th-century structures in New England, wrote several major works on American architecture, conducted archaeological site work, and also designed new, mostly residential buildings.

Most of his private and professional life was spent in Rhode Island with its large number of existing colonial buildings. The state’s extensive collection of early structures influenced his career, as did other Rhode Island architects who helped generate the Colonial Revival style nationally such as Edmund R. Willson (1856–1906), of the prominent Providence firm of Stone, Carpenter & Willson, with whom Isham trained in the late 1880s. About the same time, he received Bachelor and Master degrees from Brown University, and he married Elizabeth Barbour Ormsbee in 1895.

It is impossible to study colonial American architecture without encountering buildings that Isham restored. While some of his preservation methods and decisions have been superceded by more modern approaches and technologies, he notably produced scores of carefully measured drawings, which are still used by preservationists and historians today. His projects included such significant 17th- and 18th-century structures as Newport’s Colony House, Trinity Church, Redwood Library, and Wanton-Lyman-Allen house (all restored in the 1920s), the Stephen Hopkins House and University Hall at Brown University in Providence, Bishop Berkeley’s Whitehall in Middletown, the Eleazar Arnold House in Lincoln, and the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in North Kingstown, all Rhode Island. His bibliography encompasses surveys of early Rhode Island and Connecticut homes, scholarly studies on specific buildings, such as the First Baptist Meeting House, Providence, and St Paul’s in Wickford and papers on individual architects such as John Holden Greene....

Article

Deborah Cullen

[MoMA] (New York)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was founded in 1929 by patrons Lillie P(lummer) Bliss, Cornelius J. Sullivan and Rockefeller family §(1) to establish an institution devoted to modern art. Over the next ten years the Museum moved three times and in 1939 settled in the Early Modern style building (1938–9) designed by Philip S. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone that it still occupies at 11 West 53 Street. Subsequent renovations and expansions occurred in the 1950s and 1960s by Philip Johnson, in 1984 by Cesar Pelli and in 2002–4 by Yoshirō Taniguchi (b 1937). MoMA QNS, the temporary headquarters during this project, was subsequently used to provide art storage. In 2000, MoMA and the contemporary art space, P.S.1, Long Island City, Queens, announced their affiliation. Recent projects are shown at P.S.1 in Queens in a renovated public school building.

According to founding director, Alfred H(amilton) Barr...

Article

Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, it is the official list of the historic places of state, local and national significance worthy of preservation in the USA. Administered by the National Park Service under the Secretary of the Interior (see National Park System in America), the National Register of Historic Places has done much to aid and expand the preservation movement in America by coordinating and supporting public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect the country’s unique places. Perhaps most important of all, it has saved many a historic property from destruction.

The national historic preservation movement, which led to the creation of the Preservation Act and the National Register, was organized in response to the destruction of older buildings and neighborhoods in many historic towns and cities in post-World War II America. Much of the destruction in the 1950s and early 1960s was due to the building of the massive interstate highway system and the Urban Redevelopment Program (part of the federal Housing Act of ...

Article

Peter L. Laurence

Although the theory and practice of renovating cities is ancient, and although the term is still used to refer to similar practices today, “urban renewal” typically refers to the large-scale, federally funded redevelopment projects that took place in US cities in the 1950s and 1960s. Such projects wrought dramatic physical transformations and caused controversial social upheaval. Urban renewal in this sense came into being with the US Housing Act of 1954, although it evolved out of a history of government-funded slum clearance and housing project construction dating back to the 1930s. Following two decades of slum clearance and model housing projects including First Houses (1935), Williamsburg Houses (1937) and Stuyvesant Town (1947), all in New York, the US Housing Act of 1949 was signed into law with broad political support due to a national postwar housing shortage. As the immediate legislative predecessor of urban renewal legislation, the Housing Act of ...

Article

Tracy Fitzpatrick

( New York )

The Whitney Museum of American Art, located in New York City, is “dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art.” It was founded by Whitney family §(1) in 1930 and opened to the public in the fall of the following year. Whitney, a sculptor and collector, began exhibiting contemporary, avant-garde art in her art studio in Greenwich Village on West 4th Street in 1912. Six years later, she moved her studio to new quarters on West 8th Street and formally established the Whitney Studio Club. The Club served not only as an exhibition space, but also as a salon for its members. In 1929, Whitney revamped the Club, calling it the Whitney Studio Galleries and continuing to exhibit avant-garde art.

While running these spaces and with help from Juliana Force, who directed the Whitney Studio Galleries and became the first director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney began collecting avant-garde art by American modernists. In particular, she amassed a large body of work by artists of “the Eight,” also known as the ...