American Art in Culture

These books at the Library explore the intersection of art and society in the United States.

American Art

Framing America: A Social History of American Art
By Frances K. Phol
For more than a generation, critics and scholars have been revising and expanding the customary definition of American art. A tradition once assumed to be mainly European and oriented toward painting and sculpture has been enriched by the inclusion of other media such as ceramics, needlework, and illustration, and the work of previously marginalized groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Frances Pohl's Framing America provides a comprehensive survey of this new, enlarged vision of American art.

Nineteenth-Century American Art book jacket

Nineteenth-Century American Art
By Barbara Groseclose
This introduction examines the profession of the nineteenth-century American artist and audience reception of their work. Works of art by familiar names such as Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer are discussed in detail within the larger arena of visual culture, as are key works by recently discovered artists such as Harriet Hosmer. The thematic approach focuses on portraiture, landscape painting, the American West, and commemorative art, then goes on to examine the ways in which painters responded to major social and economic changes resulting from the rapid transformation from an agriculturally-based former colony to an industrialized imperial power with an evolving democracy.

Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture
By Michael Kammen
From a respected cultural historian comes an account of American controversies concerning art. The fascinating study reminds readers of the vital role that art and artists play in our culture.

Money for Art: The Tangled Web of Art and Politics in American Democracy
By David A. Smith
In Money for Art, Smith traces the history of government funding of the arts in America, with emphasis on developments since the founding of the National Endowment of the Arts in 1965.

Inventing the Modern Artist book jacket

Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America
By Sarah Burns
Sarah Burns tells the story of artists in American society during a period of critical transition from Victorian to modern values, examining how culture shaped the artists and how artists shaped their culture. Focusing on such important painters as James McNeill Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Cecilia Beaux, Winslow Homer, and Albert Pinkham Ryder, she investigates how artists reacted to the growing power of the media, to an expanding consumer society, to the need for a specifically American artist type, and to the problem of gender.

Still Looking: Essays on American Art
By John Updike
John Updike, moonlighting as art critic, now gathers together in this richly illustrated book 18 of his remarkable pieces, all dealing with American art.

Painting American: The Rise of American Artists, Paris 1867 - New York 1948
By Annie Cohen-Solal
This book tells the saga of the rise of American artists: a surging transatlantic ebb and flow of cultural energies, driven by innumerable fascinating individuals--painters, collectors, critics, titans of industry--some of them now famous, others forgotten.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Culture Comes to Kansas City
By Kristie C. Wolferman
Kristie Wolferman tells the story of how the Nelson-Atkins came to be, re-creating the fascinating combination of people, events, and circumstances that culminated in this temple of art in the Midwest. With words and pictures, Wolferman reveals how the trustees of the estates of the reclusive widow Mary Atkins and of the family of Kansas City Star newspaper editor William Rockhill Nelson joined forces to establish a museum from scratch.

Bold Expansion book jacket

Bold Expansion: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Bloch Building
By Toni Wood and Ann Slegman
The construction of the Bloch Building represents one part of a total transformation of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This book is intended to celebrate this moment in the museum's history, with a look at how the institution arrived at this period of change. Sketches, photographs and images of artwork capture the many moods and impressions of the Bloch Building.

The Sixth Surface: Steven Holl Lights the Nelson-Atkins Museum
J.M. Rees, editor
This book features a collection of poems, essays and artworks that help translate the expanded Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.