Picturing the City in American Art
This course examines various ways that the experience of the modern city has served as a stimulus for the development of American art from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will explore a range of topics within this theme, including how artists engaged the city as subject matter; how urban forms such as the skyscraper, rapid transit, modern plumbing, and graffiti impacted the formal qualities of artworks in a variety of visual media (painting, sculpture, prints, photography, early film, and multi-media installations); how the city has served as a "canvas" for works of public art; and even how the city itself has been conceived as a work of art, among other topics. We will look at work by artists who celebrated the city and its possibilities and by those who have treated its spaces as threatening and dangerous. Artists and art movements such as James McNeill Whistler, Childe Hassam, the City Beautiful movement, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Isabel Bishop, the Ashcan School, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Stella, the Harlem Renaissance, Thomas Hart Benton, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kara Walker are among the subjects studied in this course.
PDFs of all required readings are posted to Canvas. For additional background, you may wish to consult the freely-available, open-access textbook, American Encounters.