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Other titles in the Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America series:
Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York (Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America)by April F. Masten
Synopses & Reviews
I was in high spirits all through my unwise teens, considerably puffed up, after my drawings began to sell, with that pride of independence which was a new thing to daughters of that period.--The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock FooteMary Hallock made what seems like an audacious move for a nineteenth-century young woman. She became an artist. She was not alone. Forced to become self-supporting by financial panics and civil war, thousands of young women moved to New York City between 1850 and 1880 to pursue careers as professional artists. Many of them trained with masters at the Cooper Union School of Design for Women, where they were imbued with the Unity of Art ideal, an aesthetic ideology that made no distinction between fine and applied arts or male and female abilities. These women became painters, designers, illustrators, engravers, colorists, and art teachers. They were encouraged by some of the era's best-known figures, among them Tribune editor Horace Greeley and mechanic/philanthropist Peter Cooper, who blamed the poverty and dependence of both women and workers on the separation of mental and manual labor in industrial society. The most acclaimed artists among them owed their success to New York's conspicuously egalitarian art institutions and the rise of the illustrated press. Yet within a generation their names, accomplishments, and the aesthetic ideal that guided them virtually disappeared from the history of American art.Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York recaptures the unfamiliar cultural landscape in which spirited young women, daring social reformers, and radical artisans succeeded in reuniting art and industry. In this interdisciplinary study, April F. Masten situates the aspirations and experience of these forgotten women artists, and the value of art work itself, at the heart of the capitalist transformation of American society.
Book News Annotation:
Masten (history, Stony Brook University) started her research for this enlightening work by wondering what the barriers were to women as artists in nineteenth-century America. To her astonishment, she discovered that the years from 1840-1880 were a golden age for artists, male and female. Using the principle called "Unity of Art" schools were opened to train artists. This was not for upper-class ladies. The artists were expected to earn their living from their work. Women were illustrators, engravers, and portrait artists. A combination of factors influenced this, including the social upheaval of the Civil War, a reaction against the dehumanization of factory work, and the rise of a republicanism in which skilled labor was honored. But by the 1880s society had changed again and the women who had been known and respected as artists were forgotten. Masten has done them and us a great service in finding these artists and telling their story. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Between 1850 and 1880, thousands of women moved to New York City to study art and pursue careers as painters, designers, illustrators, and engravers. This book reconnects their accomplishments to the city's conspicuously democratic art institutions, its burgeoning illustrated press, and the prevailing aesthetic ideal known as the Unity of Art.
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism