Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America

Sarah Burns

Published by Yale University Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0300078595 / ISBN 13: 9780300078596
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Synopsis: The story of artists in American society during the critical transition from Victorian to modern values, examining how culture shaped the artists and how artists shaped their culture. It focuses on painters such as James McNeill Whistler, William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux.

From Publishers Weekly: Tracing the evolution of art from a romantic calling to a calculated career, this wonderful book offers a detailed look at how late Victorian culture produced the thoroughly modern artist of the 20th century. With the rise of capitalism, many disciplines grew increasingly specialized and self-determined. However, the art world proves an especially fascinating case, as artists both catered to and anticipated appetites and values which are standard in culture today. The book is arranged around broad "inventions," such as art as a form of therapy for nerves jangled by mechanization, or bohemianism as a fashionable, slightly ridiculous, expression of repressed, or simply impractical bourgeois desires. Among the most interesting chapters are those that address the complicated, ultimately confused gender roles artists grappled with. They were, on the one hand, negatively perceived as (feminine) aesthetes operating outside of, yet dependent on, the (masculine) realms of business and finance. But artists were also the ultimate entrepreneurs: William Merritt Chase's famously opulent studio became a working model of commercial success, while Winslow Homer's rugged pictures and personae spoke to his robber-baron clientele in near-Darwinian terms of survival. How "the great woman painter," as Cecilia Beaux was dubbed, navigated her own success is delicate indeed. The author, an art historian at Indiana University, draws on an entertaining range of sources in period fiction, philosophy, politics and 130 illustrations in a scholarly, bright and highly readable effort.
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Title: Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture...
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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