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black and white. Wilmerding hus provided helpful notes and a very useful bibliography. America as Art. Joshua C. Taylor. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington. D.C.. 1976. 320 pp.. illus. $25.00. Reviewed by Ferris Olin* Many examinations of art in the U.S.A. discuss major figures and trends. but neglect that which should be most obvious-that the country was a prime source of imagery for the artists, as well. In 1976.the National Collection of Fine Arts, under the direction of Taylor. mounted a Bicentennial Exhibition whose focus was just such an examination. (The exhibit was coordinated by Richard Murray.) The book was published to complement this exhibition. Its eight essays 'set out to examine . . . the varying ways in which some ideas and attitudes about America became inseparable from the country's art and conversely. how in some instances art itself became an identifying mark of America'. Taylor is responsible for seven of the essays. while John G . Cawelti, professor of English and Humanities at the University of Chicago. wrote the essay entitled The Frontier and the Native American. This book provides an excellent cross-cultural introduction to the nation's heritage. Cawelti's essay, for example. discusses the significance of the expansion westward in terms of conflict-a conflict between the reality of the west and the nation's cultural myths. John Gast's painting 'Westward -ho' ('Manifest Destiny') (1872) depicts the wilderness waiting for civilization and progress. George Catland portrayed the Native North American as a noble savage in his paintings executed while traveling in the western areas in the 1930s; following the cultural myth expounded in literature by James Fenimore Cooper's Leu//ier.sroiking Tules. Charlie Chaplin. on the other hand, presented the West as a golden land of opportunity in his film 'The Gold Rush'. Each of these outlooks persists today. This type ofoverview ofthecountry's way oflife. which Taylor also employs. is what makes the book so interesting. Trends in music. theatre. literature. architecture and art are discussed within the context of a particular historical period. Examples of artworks by men. women and minority artists are reproduced. Unfortunately. several reproductions are poor in quality. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn moreabout that which isidentifiablewith thenation'sculture. Its readable essays. the rarely reproduced works and its thrust make it an ideal book for anyone in the fieldof the culture of the U.S.A. Alfred Stieglitz and the American Avant-Garde. William Innes Homer. Secker & Warburg, London. 1977. 335 pp.. illus. f9.75. Reviewed by Lincoln Rothschild ** An introductory section outlines the four year's effort by the author and others that went into this book's production. The mass of detailed information that resulted will enable readers to form or revise opinions of the growth of aesthetic sophistication in the art of the U.S.A. instead of having to accept summary interpretations of the author. Indeed, some criticism might be leveled against a lack of philosophical evaluation. Certain prevalent assumptions about development of the arts in the U.S.A. during the first two decades of the 20th century must be modified in the light of the facts presented. and some interesting but largely unnoted paradoxes appear. Photography is seen to have developed a strong following as a fine art long before the recent movement in that direction, with Stieglitz as one of its most active promoters as well as a highly skilled and honored practitioner. Curiously. all this occurred when innovative painters were deserting realistic representation. In his photographs Stieglitz leaned toward literal imagery, though he promoted radical change in art toward solely aesthetic ends and nonfigurative subjects among the adherents of the group at his Gallery 291 in *R. D. 2, Box 170. Mountain Rd.. Ringoes. NJ 08551. U.S.A. **63 Livingston Ave.. Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, U.S.A. ~ ~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~ ~ New York City. Eduard Steichen is given considerable attention as a supporter from the early Photo-Secession onward, becoming the leader and guide of Gallery 291 artists to circles of nontraditional artists abroad. An effort to establish the culture of the U.S.A. as a distinct and independent phenomenon and to slough...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 250-251
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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