Fine Arts | American Art to 1860: The Course of Empire
A445 | 2062 | Burns
For American artists at the time of the Revolution and independence from
England, the question of what would, or should be the art of the new
nation was a question of immense importance. What should painters paint,
and sculptors carve? How should artists be trained? How could they
survive in a pragmatic culture that regarded art as an unnecessary luxury?
Should American culture turn toward or away from the cultural heritage and
authority of Europe? What sort of man or woman should an artist be: a
scientist, a poet, an explorer, an entrepreneur, a socialite, a rebel?
What styles, subjects, and meanings would constitute a genuine American
art, and how could American national identity be defined through visual
and material media? Should artists confront, ignore, or whitewash
America's grievous social ills and fierce political conflicts?
This course explores the many ways in which artists and their
audiences addressed and responded to such questions. Topics include
portraits and self-fashioning; heroes and history; art on the frontier;
painting "America the Beautiful," and visualizing the American social
Classes will combine lecture with discussion; course work includes
assigned readings, quizzes, response papers and other forms of writing.