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Other titles in the Metropolitan Museum, New York: Exhibition Catalogues series:
The Civil War and American Artby Eleanor Jones Harvey
Synopses & Reviews
The Civil War redefined America and forever changed American art. Its grim reality, captured through the new medium of photography, was laid bare. American artists could not approach the conflict with the conventions of European history painting, which glamorized the hero on the battlefield. Instead, many artists found ways to weave the war into works of art that considered the human narrativeandmdash;the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind. Artists and writers wrestled with the ambiguity and anxiety of the Civil War and used landscape imagery to give voice to their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation.
This important book looks at the range of artwork created before, during, and following the war, in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America's finest artists, including Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy H. O'Sullivan.and#160;
Harvey examines Americanand#160;landscape and genre painting and the new medium of photography to understand both how artists made sense of the war and how they portrayed what was a deeply painful, complex period in American history. Enriched by firsthand accounts of the war by soldiers, former slaves, abolitionists, and statesmen, Harvey's research demonstrates how these artists used painting and photography to reshape American culture. Alongside the artworks, period voices (notably those ofand#160;Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman) amplify the anxiety and dilemmas of wartime America.and#160;
"Released alongside an extensive exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this latest from Harvey (The Painted Sketch) provides a nuanced, sensitive, and deeply informed accounting of a major period in the history of American art. Harvey sees with fresh attention the 'war-infected layer of meaning' that permeates the period around the Civil War, gracefully navigating the political and aesthetic complexities that altered the literal and metaphoric landscapes of the time. She balances the broader world of military campaigns with detailed examinations of prominent artists, turning her attention to topics such as the rumbling skies of landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church and the subtleties of Winslow Homer's attitudes regarding race. Her sustained exploration is accompanied by striking reproductions of the images, with the gruesome photography of ravaged bodies and landscapes affecting enough to invigorate interest in the historical topics. Paired alongside these studies are considerations of popular poetry and journalism, highlighting the ways that visual art both altered the broader culture while remaining inseparable from it. The comprehensive study manages to remain engaging across its redolent academic and historical interests, creating a sincere excitement appropriate to Harvey's always insightful and vital reckoning with America's scarred past. Color illus. (Dec)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A sweeping survey of the impact of the Civil War on American painting and photography in the 19th century
The American Civil War was arguably the first modern war. Its grim reality, captured through the new medium of photography, was laid bare. American artists could not approach the conflict with the conventions of European history painting, which glamorized the hero on the battlefield. Instead, many artists found ways to weave the war into works of art that considered the human narrative—the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind. Artists and writers wrestled with the ambiguity and anxiety of the Civil War and used landscape imagery to give voice to their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation.
This important book looks at the range of artwork created before, during, and following the war, in the years between 1859 and 1876. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey examines the implications of the war on landscape and genre painting, history painting, and photography, as represented in some of the greatest masterpieces of 19th-century American art. The book features extensive quotations from men and women alive during the war years, alongside text by literary figures including Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman, among many others.
About the Author
Eleanor Jones Harvey isand#160;senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her books include The Voyage of the Icebergs: Frederic Church's Arctic Masterpiece (Yale) and The Painted Sketch: American Impressions from Nature, 1830andndash;1880.
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » General