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This lavishly illustrated volume offers a stunning new view of Yosemite's visual history by presenting two hundred works of art together with provocative essays that explore the rich intersections between art and nature in this incomparable Sierra Nevada wilderness. Integrating the work of Native peoples, it provides the first inclusive view of the artists who helped create an icon of the American wilderness by featuring painting, photography, basketry, and other artworks from both well-known and little-studied artists from the nineteenth century to the present. Yosemite: Art of an American Icon pursues several evocative themes, including the relationship between environment and aesthetics in Yosemite; the various ways in which artists have shaped how we see and use the park; and the dynamic intersections between art, nature, and commerce that have played out during its history. In addition to offering a wide-ranging view of Yosemite's art over the past two centuries, the volume provides intriguing insights into the complexities and contradictions inherent in its enduring image as both an unspoiled natural wonder and a must-see spot for sightseers.
With Essays by Amy Scott, William Deverell, Kate Nearpass Ogden, Gary F. Kurutz, Brian Bibby, Jennifer A. Watts, and Jonathan Spaulding
Copub: Museum of the American West
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"For Americans of the nineteenth century, Yosemite, like Niagara Falls, offered a defining natural symbol of American possibilities. Here, in image and text, is the record of how the painters and photographers of that era-poised on California peaks in silent awe-celebrated the Yosemite as place and icon." Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California
For 150 years Yosemite Valley has captured the American imagination through literary description, the photographer’s lens, and the artist’s palate. Yosemite: Art of an American Icon is a wonderful, multilayered cultural history of a spectacular American landscape. This is a story of the beauty of Nature melded with human perceptions, which tells us much about ourselves as well as the incomparable valley.’ It is a spectacular, entertaining read.” Robert Righter, author of The Battle over Hetch Hetchy
"Tracing the dynamic interconnections between art, nature, and commerce that transformed Yosemite into one of the most powerful and popular icons of wilderness in American culture, Yosemite: Art of an American Icon is a one-of-a-kind volume that graphically probes and exposes our ambivalent cultural love affair with pristine wilderness. Not only does it provide a nuanced and comprehensive survey of the art of Yosemite, but it also encourages us to critically examine our contradictory desire for Yosemite to be both untouched natural preserve and sought-after tourist destination." Marguerite S. Shaffer, Director of American Studies, Associate Professor of American Studies and History, Miami University, Oxford Ohio
As Amy Scott puts it in her introduction: In Yosemite, visitors encounter nature but see a work of art.” For us to see nature it must be turned into a landscape, a work of art, but always then what we see is the work of art. It is this paradox that the book so skillfully elucidates, in a major contribution that places the visual creation of Yosemite at the heart of western studies, American art, and the role of wilderness in modern urban society. Scott and her colleagues do a magnificent job of capturing Yosemite’s significance and its hard realities and complexities, synthesizing current research on the development of Yosemite, and extending that research in many fruitful directions. And the book is beautifully written and illustrated.” Bruce Robertson, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Consulting Curator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Amy Scott is Curator of Visual Arts at the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, California. William Deverell is Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. Kate Nearpass Ogden is Associate Professor of Art History at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Gary Kurutz is Curator of Special Collections at the California State Library. Brian Bibby is an independent scholar and author. Jennifer Watts is curator of photography at the Huntington Library. Jonathan Spaulding is executive director and chief curator at the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West.
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