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Article

David Anfam

Term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, very narrowly, as Action painting, although it was first coined in relation to the work of Vasily Kandinsky in 1929. The works of the generation of artists active in New York from the 1940s and regarded as Abstract Expressionists resist definition as a cohesive style; they range from Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of colour to De Kooning family, §1’s violent handling of the figure. They were linked by a concern with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content. Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in the sculpture of David Smith, Ibram Lassaw and others, the photography of Aaron Siskind and the painting of Mark Tobey, as well as in the work of less renowned artists such as ...

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

Article

Christopher Want

Term used in the 20th century, in particular from the 1960s, to describe a style characterized by an impersonal austerity, plain geometric configurations, and industrially processed materials. It was first used by Burlyuk family, §1 in the catalogue introduction for an exhibition of John Graham’s paintings at the Dudensing Gallery in New York in 1929. Burlyuk wrote: ‘Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself.’ The term gained currency in the 1960s. Accounts and explanations of Minimalism varied considerably, as did the range of work to which it was related. This included the monochrome paintings of Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad(olph Dietrich Friedrich) Reinhardt (see fig.), Frank Stella, and Brice Marden, and even aspects of Pop art and Post-painterly Abstraction. Typically the precedents cited were Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, the Suprematist compositions of Kazimir Malevich, and Barnett Newman’s Abstract Expressionist paintings. The rational grid paintings of ...

Article

W. Iain Mackay

(b Arequipa, 1912; d 1988).

Peruvian painter, teacher, printmaker, and writer. He studied until 1935 at the Universidad Nacional de S. Agustín, Arequipa, where he continued to teach history of art and aesthetics until 1950, although he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study in the USA between 1943 and 1945; as an artist he was self-taught. He later settled in Lima, where he executed a number of large murals (e.g. Construction of Peru, 6 × 16 m, 1954; Lima, Min. Econ. & Finanzas). In these and in watercolor paintings he combined social realism with a degree of caricature reminiscent of the work of Pancho Fierro. In 1954 Núñez Ureta was awarded the Premio Nacional de Pintura, and from 1973 to 1976 he was Director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Lima. His written works include a number of books on Peruvian art.

La vida de la gente. Lima, 1982.Gente de mi tierra...

Article

Pop art  

Jaimey Hamilton

International art movement in the 1960s inspired by the imagery of mass media and commercial and ‘popular’ culture. Pop was initially defined in 1957 by English artist Richard Hamilton, a member of the Independent Group, and achieved its greatest recognition as a movement with American artists Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol. At the height of the Cold War (1962–9), when America cultivated new political, economic, and cultural spheres of influence, the American artists’ works were often seen to reflect the apex of consumer capitalism. In this context, regional Pop art-oriented circles also arose in Western and Central Europe, Japan, and Latin America, often in direct response to American Pop and American commercial and political interests. Because of its international dissemination, Pop coheres less around a strict notion of style or consistent attitude and more around a period interest and varied response to mass media and new commodity-driven lifestyles. Artists associated with the movement often appropriated business logos, billboard and magazine advertisements, household objects, grocery store commodities, comic book strips, pulp fiction, movie icons, TV broadcasts, and more. At its most rigorous, Pop art exhibits a direct relationship between popular culture and the techniques of its production and dissemination. Even when painting on canvas, many artists referenced commercial design and printing (for example Roy Lichtenstein’s use of Ben Day dots). Airbrush, stencilling, photo transfer, and silkscreen printing became more accepted. Multiples (as in Andy Warhol’s ...

Article

Popular culture, including both pre-industrial craft and folk art and industrialized mass culture, has had a major impact on the course of American art. Prior to the mid-19th century, the scarcity of professionally trained artists meant that many individuals freely crossed the line between folk and “high” art. The early 19th-century sculptor William Rush, for instance, was trained as a carpenter and began his career carving ships’ figureheads but went on to become a co-founder of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the leading sculptor in Philadelphia, working in a style that blended the artisanal tradition with Baroque and Neo-classical influences.

Folk art continued to be produced into the 20th century, most famously in the work of Grandma Moses, but as America underwent rapid industrialization in the first decades of the 20th century, mass culture replaced folk art and the craft tradition as the focus of artists’ attention.

One of the first movements to respond to popular culture in the 20th century was the ...

Article

(b Buffalo, NY, Dec 24, 1913; d New York, Aug 30, 1967).

American painter and writer. He was renowned for his work as an abstract painter and for his influence on Minimalism; he also wrote and lectured throughout his life, using these forms to deal with matters he felt were best left out of painting. He set his date of birth in the context of a personal, cultural, and political chronology, describing it as having taken place nine months after the Armory Show had ended, on the eve of Europe’s entry into World War I and during the year in which Kazimir Malevich painted the first geometric abstract painting. Extensive travel throughout the world fed his encyclopedic interests.

Reinhardt studied (1931–5) literature and then art history under Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University, New York, where he gained a broad-based arts education; also under Schapiro’s influence he became involved in what were then considered radical campus politics. Reinhardt was editor of the humorous campus publication ...