What Defines American Art?
My friend and I visited your gallery and were surprised to learn you are the oldest gallery of American Art in Florida. What defines “American Art”?
Dear Mary Can,
Often galleries specialize in particular types of art as part of their identity and their objective. Specialization gives a gallery a reason for existing – is the gallery there to promote local artists, emerging artists, European artists, Haitian artists, contemporary artists, photography, wildlife art, nautical art, Cuban-American art? The list goes on. Our gallery was founded in 1964 in Naples to represent American Masters – established artists of American citizenship.
American artists as a classification is not limited to American-born artists and does not necessarily imply the artist resides and works in America either. American comes down to citizenship. But the question of what defines “American Art” comes up now and then by art historians and art critics alike from time to time.
The first American art movement was the Hudson River School started in the 1820s with landscapes of the wild, untamed America waiting to be explored and settled. Also quintessentially “American” art movements include: American Regionalism, often depicting scenes of rural 1930’s America, and Abstract Expressionism, the movement credited with making New York City the center of the art world in the middle of the last century.
Some works we think of as American by their subject matter are actually not American at all. For example, “Washington Crossing the Delaware” was painted by the German-born Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze in Germany. (The painting was destroyed in 1942 during a bombing raid by the Allied Forces over Germany, but a second, larger version of the painting still survives and is the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.)
American art doesn’t mean it is of American flags or subject matter, but if created by an American citizen it counts as American Art.