Fine Arts | American Art, 1860-1900: The Gilded Age
A446 | 2038 | Burns
This course surveys the turbulent decades when rapidly unfolding
developments in American society transformed the US from a relatively
provincial and agrarian republic into an expanding urban, industrial, and
ultimately imperial power. This climate of accelerating change and social
instability had a profound impact on art. By the end of the century,
collisions between tradition and modernity, nativism and cosmopolitanism,
and high culture and popular culture had extensively reshaped the world
of American art, which went from home-grown to high style in little more
than a generation.
In this class we will anatomize that reshaping process by
looking in detail at a number of key "players" (along with various
satellites) whose work most dramatically addressed the critical aesthetic
and social issues of a tumultuous time. These include Winslow Homer,
Thomas Eakins, William Merritt Chase, James McNeill Whistler, John
Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt. Topics include the art of war, art in
the marketplace, country vs. city, art for arts sake, celebrity art,
artistic self-fashioning, and the politics of gender and race in the world
of art. The objectives of the course are to bring students into close
engagement with works of art, modes of criticism, and issues of
interpretation, and to introduce them to scholarship in the field.
Classes will combine lecture with discussion; course work includes
assigned readings, quizzes, response papers and other forms of writing.