The Power Of Homely Detail

Much has changed in Utah since World War II, but outside of the metropolitan center in the Salt Lake Valley, the addiction to rural simplicity and the idea of home is still strong.

 

If the West is an oasis civilization, as the historian Walter Webb once wrote, then Utah is the oasis civilization par excellence. It has a few more oases than Nevada, the only state that is more arid overall, but it also has more civilization, hard-won. Read more »

Saint-Gaudens

His works ranged from intimate cameos to heroic public monuments. America has produced no greater sculptor.

For the “mysterious aura” of his art, a critic has compared him to Thomas Eakins. In the “haunting grandeur” of his sculpture, he is the equal of Auguste Rodin. Both historian and idealist, an artist whose work encompasses realism and allegory, Augustus Saint-Gaudens satisfied popular taste while managing to grow steadily as an artist. An American pioneer in moving sculpture from single to multiple figures and from carved stone to cast bronze, he completed more than two hundred commissions over a thirty-year working life.Read more »

The Civilized Landscape

While a whole generation of artists sought inspiration in the wilderness, George Inness was painting the fields and farms of a man-made countryside

Two years younger than Jasper Cropsey and Sanford Gifford and one year older than Frederic Church, George Inness was the contemporary of a group of American landscape painters closely joined by shared styles and ideals in the tradition of Thomas Cole. They were America’s most admired artists in the decade or so that preceded the Civil War; in 1859 Church’s Heart of the Andes drew the highest price ever paid for a contemporary American landscape.Read more »

Christopher Blossom & The Marine Tradition

A young artist takes on a venerable genre

Few aesthetic disciplines are as exacting as marine art. Consider the problems. The painter of portraits or landscapes can return to the subject again and again to verify shape, color, tone. But water is a moving, constantly changing element. The artist is dependent on sketches and memory to reproduce the play of reflections on the water’s surface or the spume and the spindrift of a stormy sea. Sky usually occupies more of the canvas than does either ship or sea. How marry these dissimilar elements so that they fuse rather than conflict?Read more »

Past Masters

Israel Sack made a fortune by seeing early the craft in fine old American furniture

To a casual passerby on East Fifty-seventh Street in Midtown Manhattan, No. 15 looks like any other small, wellkept building. On the main floor is an antique-silver shop. Above it on the third and fourth floors are windows with blinds pulled shut behind them, and across each window in gilt Gothic lettering there appears simply a name, Israel Sack, Inc. Although behind those upper-story windows is the oldest and most prestigious dealer in American antiques, nothing gives that information away. The name on the building is enough.Read more »

Shinn

He was the most naturally gifted of The Eight, and his vigorous, uninhibited vision of city life transformed American painting at the turn of the century. In fact, he may have been too gifted.

Never at an art exhibition in this city has there been such an attendance,” the young painter Guy Pène du Bois reported in the New York American for February 4, 1908, adding that “only with the greatest difficulty, by stretching of necks, crowding and other strenuous methods, were spectators enabled to see the paintings.” All that week and the next, despite a snowstorm followed by days of slush, the curious continued to crowd into the Macbeth Galleries’ two 16 x 20 foot rooms on an upstairs floor of 450 Fifth Avenue.Read more »

Chicago Transit

During the 1920s the city spurred local rail traffic with an unparalleled run of superb and stylish posters

Surprisingly little is known about the posters shown on these pages. Springing up practically overnight in the mid-1920s, they bloomed for a short while, four or five years at most, and then their season, was over. Who was behind them and the reason for their demise is mostly a matter of conjecture. But one thing is certain: they rank with the best commercial art ever produced in this country, distinguished by their simple, vigorous shapes, subtle colors, and bold typography.Read more »

A Passion In Miniature

Peter Marié, a bon vivant of the Gilded Age, asked hundreds of Society’s prettiest women to allow themselves to be painted for him alone

FOR A DEBUTANTE in turn-of-the-ceiitury New York, the highest mark of approval was having Peter Marié request a miniature portrait. Marié, a descendant of French planters in Santo Domingo and a beau of the old school, had made a fortune in New York before retiring at the age of forty in 1865. He went to all the grandest parties, entertained, belonged to New York’s best clubs. And he greatly admired beautiful women.Read more »

Four More Years

Here is how political cartoonists have sized up the candidates over a tumultuous half-century.

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN turning out political cartoons since the dawn of the Republic, but in the nineteenth century the drawings tended to be verbose and cluttered, their characters trailing long ribbons of speech balloons as they stumbled over obscure symbols. It took the national turmoil that surrounded the emergence of Franklin Roosevelt to bring the art to its incisive, confident, acid maturity. On the eve of the election, we offer a portfolio of cartoons both admiring and execrating from the last thirteen presidential contests.Read more »

Saving The Statue

After standing in New York Harbor for nearly one hundred years, this thin-skinned but sturdy lady needs a lot of attention. She’s getting it- from a crack team of French and American architects and engineers.

AT A TABLE IN a cozy Chinese restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris, half a dozen men argue loudly about the Statue of Liberty. Several argue in French, several argue in English, and one argues in both languages while attempting simultaneous translation of everyone else’s remarks. The question at issue: Why wasn’t the statue built the way Gustave Eiffel designed it? Read more »