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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

M. Sue Kendall

Term first used by Holger Cahill and Alfred H(amilton) Barr in Art in America (New York, 1934) and loosely applied to American urban realist painters. In particular it referred to those members of Eight, the who shortly after 1900 began to portray ordinary aspects of city life in their paintings, for example George Luks’s painting Closing the Café (1904; Utica, NY, Munson-Williams-Proctor Inst.). Robert Henri, John Sloan, William J(ames) Glackens, Everett Shinn and Luks were the core of an informal association of painters who, in reaction against the prevailing restrictive academic exhibition procedures, mounted a controversial independent exhibition at the Macbeth Galleries, New York (1908).

Sloan, Glackens, Shinn and Luks had all worked for the Philadelphia Press. It was in Philadelphia, where Henri had trained at the Academy of Fine Arts, that he convinced them to leave their careers as newspaper illustrators to take up painting as a serious profession. In an explicit challenge to the ‘art for art’s sake’ aesthetic of the late 19th century, Henri proposed an ‘art for life’, one that would abandon the polished techniques and polite subject-matter of the academicians; it would celebrate instead the vitality that the painter saw around him in everyday situations....

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

M. Sue Kendall

(Wesley)

(b Columbus, OH, Aug 12, 1882; d New York, Jan 8, 1925).

American painter and lithographer. He was the son of George Bellows, an architect and building contractor. He displayed a talent for drawing and for athletics at an early age. In 1901 he entered Ohio State University, where he contributed drawings to the school yearbook and played on both the basketball and the baseball teams. In the spring of his third year he withdrew from university to play semi-professional baseball until the end of summer 1904; this, and the sale of several of his drawings, earned him sufficient money to leave Columbus in September to pursue his career as an artist.

Bellows studied in New York under Robert Henri at the New York School of Art, directed by William Merritt Chase. He initially resided at the YMCA on 57th Street. In 1906 Bellows moved to Studio 616 in the Lincoln Arcade Building on Broadway; over the following years the other tenants at this location included the urban realist painter Glenn O. Coleman (...

Article

Henry Adams

(b Neosho, MO, April 15, 1889; d Kansas City, MO, Jan 19, 1975).

American painter, illustrator, and lithographer. One of the most controversial personalities in American art, both in his lifetime and today, Thomas Hart Benton was a key figure in the American Regionalist movement of the 1930s, when he focused on working-class American subject-matter and was outspoken in his denunciation of European modern painting. Today he is best remembered for this phase of his life, and much criticized because of it. But Benton’s long career is not easily reduced to a single moment or achievement: his legacy was more complex. As a young struggling artist in Paris and New York, he was a leading American modernist and abstractionist, and in his early maturity he became the teacher and lifelong father figure for Jackson Pollock, the most famous of the Abstract Expressionists. He was also a major American writer, who wrote on art and whose autobiography of 1936 became a best-seller. He was also a notable figure in American music who collected American folk songs and devised a new form of harmonica notation that is still in use....

Article

Martin H. Bush

(b Cincinnati, March 3, 1902; d New York, Feb 19, 1988).

American painter, draughtsman and etcher. Bishop moved to New York in 1918 to study at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and from 1920 at the Art Students League under Guy Pène du Bois and Kenneth Hayes Miller. During these years she developed lifelong friendships with Reginald Marsh, Edwin Dickinson and other figurative painters who lived and worked on 14th Street, assimilating these influences with those of Dutch and Flemish painters such as Adriaen Brouwer and Peter Paul Rubens, whose work she saw in Europe in 1931.

From the early 1930s Bishop developed an anecdotal and reportorial Realist style in pictures of life on the streets of Manhattan such as Encounter (1940; St Louis, MO, A. Mus.), in which an ordinary-looking man and woman are shown meeting under a street lamp. Throughout her long career Bishop concentrated on the subtleties of fleeting moments in the daily routine of people who lived and worked in and around Union Square, giving these simple occasions a sense of timelessness: shopgirls seated at a lunch counter (...

Article

John I. H. Baur

(Ephraim)

(b Ashtabula Harbor, OH, April 9, 1893; d West Seneca, NY, Jan 10, 1967).

American painter. At five Burchfield moved with his family to Salem, OH, where he spent his youth. From 1912 to 1916 he studied at the Cleveland School of Art, OH. He was awarded a scholarship to the National Academy of Design, New York, where he went in October 1916 but left after one day of classes. He returned to Salem in November, where he supported himself by working at a local metal-fabricating plant, and painted during his lunch-hours and at weekends.

Between 1915 and 1918 Burchfield painted small watercolours marked by their fantasy and arbitrary colour. In these he often painted either visual equivalents of sounds in nature, as in The Insect Chorus (1917; Utica, NY, Munson–Williams–Proctor Inst.), or re-created childhood emotions, such as fear of the dark in Church Bells Ringing, Rainy Winter Night (1917; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.). For these works he invented symbols in a sketchbook entitled ...

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

M. Sue Kendall

(b nr Dunavant, KS, Nov 14, 1897; d Madison, WI, Aug 29, 1946).

American painter and illustrator. As one of the ‘Regionalist triumvirate’, with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, he has been most often characterized as a faithful chronicler of rural life in Kansas. From 1916 to 1918 he was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1919 he began study in the studio of Harvey Dunn (1884–1952) in Tenafly, NJ. After seven years as an illustrator in and around New York, he went to Paris in 1926 to study with the Russian Academician Vasily Shukhayev. Ironically, it was on Curry’s return to the East Coast the following year that he began to earn his reputation as a Regionalist by painting memories of Kansas from his studio in the fashionable art colony of Westport, CT. Baptism in Kansas (1928; New York, Whitney, see American Scene painting) shows a country child being baptized in a cattle trough. Such paintings of early American life appealed to certain East Coast urban viewers seeking to recover a lost past....

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

Cécile Whiting

(b Philadelphia, Dec 7, 1892; d New York, June 24, 1964).

American painter and printmaker (see fig.). He was born into an artistic family: his parents studied with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and his father was the art editor at the Philadelphia Press, a newspaper that included among its employees the Robert Henri circle of artist–reporters. Davis studied art under Henri in New York between 1909 and 1912. His earliest works, which chronicle urban life in the streets, saloons and theatres, are painted with the dark palette and thickly applied brushstrokes typical of the Ashcan school style inspired by Henri. Davis also published illustrations in the left-wing magazine The Masses between 1913 and 1916, and in The Liberator, which succeeded it in the 1920s.

With his contribution of five watercolours Davis was one of the youngest exhibitors at the Armory Show, the international exhibition of modern art that opened in New York in 1913...

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

Janet Marstine

Group of eight American painters who joined forces in 1907 to promote stylistic diversity and to liberalize the exclusive exhibition system in the USA. They first exhibited together at Robert Henri’s instigation at the Macbeth Galleries, New York, in February 1908, following the rejection of works by George Luks, Everett Shinn, William J. Glackens and others at the National Academy of Design’s spring show in 1907, of which Henri was a jury member before resigning in protest. Henri, the driving force behind the group, was joined not only by Luks, Shinn and Glackens but also by John Sloan, Ernest Lawson, Arthur B. Davies and Maurice Prendergast. Henri was a painter of cityscapes and portraits who worked in a dark and painterly, conservative style influenced by Frans Hals and Velázquez; a gifted teacher, he encouraged his students to depict the urban poor with vitality and sensitivity.

Sloan, Luks, Shinn and Glackens had met Henri in Philadelphia in the 1890s while employed as newspaper illustrators. Henri persuaded them to move to New York, where they painted urban realist scenes of prostitutes, street urchins and vaudeville performers, for which they were later called the ...

Article

Constance W. Glenn

(b Saint Louis, MO, Nov 3, 1903; d New Haven, CT, April 10, 1975).

American photographer and writer. He grew up in Kenilworth, a suburb of Chicago, but moved to New York with his mother after his parents separated. Primarily interested in literature, he sat in on lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris (1926–7), visited museums and bookshops, and thought of becoming a writer. In 1928 he acquired a camera and, out of frustration over his inability to find work and develop a literary means of expression, he decided to become a photographer (see fig.). Intermittent assignments instigated by friends such as Lincoln Kirstein made it possible for him to live a bohemian life in Greenwich Village, where he met the writers Hart Crane (1899–1932) and James Agee (1909–55) and the artist Ben Shahn, with whom he worked and shared a house for a short time. Within this circle he found his early influences (see fig....

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

Cecilia Suárez

(b Quito, 1919; d March 10, 1999).

Ecuadorean painter. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Quito. He worked first in an Indigenist style: influenced by Mexican muralism, he painted village scenes, notably in the fresco The Incas and the Conquest (1948; Quito, Mus. A. Mod.) and in the series of 100 paintings Road of Sorrow (Quito, Mus. Fond. Guayasamín), exhibited for the first time in 1952. He adopted a more universal approach in Age of Anger (Quito, Mus. Fond. Guayasamín), first exhibited in 1966, in which he depicted the disasters of World War II in 220 paintings.

Guayasamín’s work is characterized by geometric composition, fine draughtsmanship, thick lines and vigorous brushwork; his central theme was the human condition afflicted by the evils of war and injustice. He also painted portraits, still-lifes, landscapes and nudes. Guayasamín exhibited internationally and was also patron of the Fundación Guayasamín in Quito.

J. Camón Asnar: Guayasamín (Barcelona, 1973)...

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

Gail Levin

(b Nyack, NY, July 22, 1882; d New York, May 15, 1967).

American painter, printmaker, and illustrator. He was brought up in a town on the Hudson River, where he developed an enduring love of nautical life (see fig.). When he graduated from Nyack Union High School in 1899, his parents, although supportive of his artistic aspirations, implored him to study commercial illustration rather than pursue an economically uncertain career in fine art. He studied with the Correspondence School of Illustrating in New York City (1899–1900). He continued to study illustration at the New York School of Art (1900–1906), under Arthur Keller (1866–1925) and Frank Vincent Du Mond (1865–1951), but began to study painting and drawing after a year. Hopper began in the portrait and still-life classes of William Merritt Chase, to whose teaching he later referred only infrequently and disparagingly. He preferred the classes he took with Kenneth Hayes Miller and especially those of ...

Article

(b Hoboken, NJ, May 26, 1895; d Marin County, CA, Oct 11, 1965).

American photographer. From 1914 to 1917 she attended the New York Training School for Teachers and there decided to become a photographer, partly influenced by visits to the photographer Arnold Genthe. From 1917 to 1918 she attended a photography course run by Clarence H. White at Columbia University, New York. Lange moved to San Francisco in 1918, and in 1919 she set up a successful portrait studio where she took works such as Clayburgh Children, San Francisco (1924; Oakland, CA, Mus.). In the late 1920s she became dissatisfied with studio work and experimented with landscape and plant photography, although she found the results unsatisfactory. With the Stock Market crash of 1929 Lange decided to look for subjects outside her studio. Turning to the effects of the economic decline she took photographs such as General Strike, San Francisco (1934; Oakland, CA, Mus.). She had her first solo show at the Brockhurst Studio of Willard Van Dyke in Oakland, CA (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Atlantic City, NJ, Sept 7, 1917; d Seattle, June 9, 2000).

American painter. He took Works Progress Administration art classes in New York (1934–7), and also studied at the Harlem Art Workshop, New York (1935) and the American Artists’ School (1937). Lawrence’s vigorous social realism quickly brought him recognition and by 1941 he was the first African American artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His early work comprised genre depictions of everyday life in Harlem, as well as major series devoted to black history (1940–41; see And the Migrants Kept Coming and In the North the Negro had Better Educational Facilities). The 41 pictures of the Touissant L’Ouverture series (1937–8; see 1986–7 exh. cat., pp. 52–3) are addressed to Haiti’s struggle for independence in the 19th century. Small pictures, executed in tempera on paper, they are characteristic of his use of water-based media throughout his career; the schematic designs, flat space, and vigorous, angular figures are typical of his style both at the beginning and the end of his life. ...