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On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950

Karlstrom, Paul J., Editor

4 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0520088506 / ISBN 13: 9780520088504
Published by University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1996
Condition: As New Hardcover
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Still in publisher's shrink wrap. Many b/w photographs and 10 full-color plates. 308 pp. Size: 4to - over 9¾" - 12" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000222

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Bibliographic Details

Title: On the Edge of America: California Modernist...

Publisher: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


To many, California's social and cultural identity has set it apart from the rest of the nation. Identified almost exclusively with Hollywood and popular culture, the entire region has been denied a meaningful relationship to mainstream twentieth-century modernism. This groundbreaking collection emphatically challenges that assumption. In essays about California art during the first half of the century, the contributors evoke a culture, now recognizable as modernist, that reflects the actual circumstances of contemporary West Coast artistic experience in all its richness. The subjects include painting, murals, sculpture, film, photography, and architecture.

The issue of regionalism is central to this remarkable collection. How do we build a cultural portrait of an area that reveals its distinctive character while recognizing its participation in the larger art historical framework? Through the essays runs the theme of an alternative culture that transformed modernism to suit its own regional imperatives. Compelled by a sense of distance and the need for reinvention, California artists created traditions for a new cultural landscape and society.

On the Edge of America is an enlightening and visually exciting addition to the growing literature on California art and culture. Through its fresh and expanded view of modernism, it is also well suited to the formulation of a truly national cultural narrative, one that embraces the edges as well as the center of American creative life.

From the Inside Flap:

"The past quarter century has witnessed the emergence of a scholarly appreciation of American art in California. Yet assessments of the early modern (pre-1950) have been haphazard. Now in one bold volume, these scholars have remedied that deficiency. Thanks to the rich essays of this wonderful book, the art history of California—and the nation!—is graced with further light."—Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

"The authors of these essays illuminate a diverse and compelling history, one in which what happened at the geographic edges sheds new light on the European points of original. A lively and valuable contribution, not just to regional history, but to the making and transmission of modernism."—Whitney Chadwick, Professor of Art History, San Francisco State University

"A welcome and overdue evaluation of the distinctive history of modernism in California, these essays sensitively explore a cultural terrain at once familiar and strange, surveying memorable achievements from painting to photography to architecture and film. The authors provocatively suggest the centrality of 'edges'—wherever they are found—to the national tale, and demonstrate it through significant developments on our western margin. A must for any serious student of American art and culture."—Charles C. Eldredge, The University of Kansas

"An engrossing examination of modernist practices in California before the Abstract Expressionists and beatniks came to town. It includes art scenes peopled by Mexican muralists, European artists in exile, third-generation Californians, idealist photographers, and immigrant artisans."—Wanda Corn, Professor of Art History, Stanford University

"These fascinating essays do much more than fill a major gap in our understanding of American regionalism. Their scope is superb because of the inclusive range of their definition of 'art,' the varied ethnicities of the artists discussed, and the distinctive impact of environment, light, and culture on California art. A dazzling treasure, as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mind."—Michael Kammen, Professor of History, Cornell University

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