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June 10, 2004

FvB's American Art Timeline

My former co-blogger FvB, in the midst of some Deepthink about American art, cooked up the following timeline. I got a lot out of eyeballing it, and persuaded Friedrich to let me post it here.

15-year “generations”

Rembrandt Peale 1778-1860 (American Neoclassical?)

Samuel Morse 1791-1872 (American Neoclassical?)
Asher B. Durand 1796-1886 (Hudson River School)
Thomas Cole 1801-1848 (Hudson River School)

John Frederick Kensett 1816-1872 (Hudson River School-Luminist)
Martin J. Heade 1819-1904 (Hudson River School-Luminist)

Jasper Francis Cropsey 1823-1900 (Hudson River School-Luminist)
Frederic Edwin Church 1826-1900 (Hudson River School-Luminist)
Albert Bierstadt 1830-1902 (Hudson River School)
James A.M. Whistler 1834-1903 (Hard to characterize)

John La Farge 1835–1910 (American Renaissance)
Winslow Homer 1836-1910 (American Realist)
Thomas Moran 1837-1926 (Hudson River School?)
Thomas Eakins 1844-1916 (American Realist)
Edwin Howland Blashfield 1848–1936 (Muralist, American Renaissance)
Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) (American Realist)
Augustus Saint-Gaudens 1848-1907 (American Renaissance Sculptor)
William Michael Harnett 1848-1892 (American Realist)
William Merritt Chase, 1849 – 1916 (American Realist/Impressionist/ Post Impressionist)
Abbott Handerson Thayer 1849-1921(American Renaissance)

Theodore Robinson, 1852 – 1896 (American Impressionist)
Julian Alden Weir 1852-1919 (American Impressionist/Post Impressionist)
John Twachtman, 1853 – 1902 (American Impressionist)
John Frederick Peto 1854-1907 (American Realist)
Kenyon Cox, 1856-1919 (Muralist, American Renaissance)
John Singer Sargent 1856 – 1925 (Hard to characterize)
Maurice Prendergast, 1858 – 1924 (American Post Impressionist)
Childe Hassam, 1859 – 1935 (American Impressionist)
Robert Reid 1863-1929 (American Impressionist)

Robert Henri 1865 – 1929 (American Ashcan School Painter)
William Wendt 1865-1946 (California Impressionist)
George Luks 1866-1933 (American Ashcan School Painter)
Guy Rose 1867-1925 (American Impressionist Painter)
John Sloan 1871-1951 (American Ashcan School Painter)
Granville Redmond (California Impressionist), 1871-1935]
William Glackens 1870-1938 (American Ashcan School Painter)
Maurice Braun 1877-1941 (California Impressionist)

Edward Hopper 1882-1967 (American Scene Painter)
Edgar Alwin Payne C.1882-1947 (California Impressionist)

posted by Michael at June 10, 2004


The problem with starting the list at 1775 is that it omits at least four of the most significant artists of the American colonial period: Gilbert Stuart, John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and Charles Wilson Peale (Rembrandt's father and a more significant figure).

The most glaring omission is not to include Mary Cassatt, certainly one of America's most significant artists on the world stage in the 19th century. Second most glaring would probably be Georgia O'Keefe who was born in 1887.

I would also suggest that good arguments could be made to include George Caleb Bingham, John James Audubon, George Catlin, Fitz Hugh Lane (especially since you've already got Kensett and Heade), Edward Hicks, George Innes, Albert Pinkham Ryder, John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley and George Bellows all of whom I think are probably more important to American art history than the California impressionists - fine to include them, but if you do, you need a more comprehensive list.

And of course, do I dare mention his name or initials even, but FLW was born in 1869. I know, I know it's only painters and sculptors. If you did expand to design you'd have to include Tiffany. One could also include photographers, Steiglitz and Steichen were both born in the 19th century.

Most readable, comprehensive history of American art - Robert Hughes "American Visions"


Posted by: Harry on June 11, 2004 12:49 AM

I had only thought of one name to add, Charles Burchfield. Just did a Google search. Born 1893. He's always yoked, in my mind, with Hopper.
But Harry's comment makes me realize just how rich the American contribution to art has been. Inness, Ryder, Dove, Hartley, Bellows: how could I have not thought of them? Individualists, every one!

Posted by: ricpic on June 11, 2004 7:06 AM

Harry is right that this list is very, very fragmentary and should be greatly expanded; I appreciate his suggestions. I have actually taken it much farther into the 20th century myself, and it seems to me to hold up pretty well, even my "guesstimate" of 15-year divisions.

What strikes me as significant about this list (and a quality that seems to remain even when it is significantly augmented with more names) is the "generational" quality of most art movements. That is, the birthdates of the major practitioners of most "named" movements are fairly tightly clustered. (The pattern is strikingly reinforced when you look at Abstract Expressionism and its offspring, Color-Field Painting, the major practioners of which were all born in around a 10-year period near the beginning of the 20th century.) Of course, a particular generation might go in several, but not many, directions--for example, artists in the 1865-1880 birth cohort could apparently only choose between social realism (Ashcan school), impressionism (2nd generation American, or Californian, Impressionists) or early Modernist. Other choices, like painting American Renaissance murals or Hudson River School landscapes were apparently foreclosed options to this generation. It would be very interesting to look into the art-world or art-customer mechanisms that seem to channel art production into such tightly defined patterns.
(It's as though the art world can only organize itself around one or two trends at a time--which of course suggests analogies to women's fashion and interior decorating.)

It's also interesting to add roughly 20 years to the birthdate (to produce a date I refer to as the "early adult era") and try to relate the artistic choices of a generation to the larger social patterns of their 15-year early adult era. Of course, this suggests that the production of artists at age 40-60 reflects social conditions that occurred several decades in the past, NOT those of the exact era in which the art work is created or sold. In other words, maybe art constitutes a kind of "oldies" market where wealthy 50-year-olds buy the woks of 50-year-old artists in order to revisit the cultural assumptions of their shared youth. (Just a thought.)

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on June 11, 2004 11:42 AM

Timeline of American Golf Course Architecture

1909 to 1932 -- Golden age of exuberance and innovation, equivalent to Art Nouveau/Deco and other trends going on simultaneously in American art world. Major architect: Alister Mackenzie

1933-1947 -- Dead era in which almost no golf courses were built.

1948 to 1967 -- Modernist era of the rational but somewhat boring designs of Robert Trent Jones.

1968 to 1994 -- Post-modernist era started by Pete Dye.

1995 onward -- Revival of Golden Age philosophies, led by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on June 11, 2004 7:04 PM

Re John Singer Sargent:

I finally got around to reading "Strapless" by Deborah Davis. It focuses on Sargent's "Madame X", and includes biographical narrative on JSS.

He was born in Italy and bounced around Europe with his ex-pat family until becoming an art student in Paris at the atelier of Carolus-Duran.

He first visited the USA for four months in 1876, when he was 20 years old. In 1887 he returned to paint a number of portraits, but otherwise spent most of his life in Europe.

For most artistic purposes, I think he ought to be considered French or possibly English, rather than American. Perhaps this is why FvB finds it hard to place Sargent.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on June 11, 2004 7:36 PM

Just a thought on Friedrich's comment, when the National Gallery here in DC did a retrospective of Mark Rothko some years ago, it was interesting to see his earlier works. He had obviously been influenced by a number of the early modernists, including John Marin. He was clearly using styles he saw in other artists that eventually led to his him developing his own mature color-field approach.

Posted by: Harry on June 12, 2004 12:08 PM

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