1st Edition

Locating American Art Finding Art's Meaning in Museums, Colonial Period to the Present

Edited By Cynthia Fowler Copyright 2016
    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    How does museum location shape the interpretation of an art object by critics, curators, art historians, and others? To what extent is the value of a work of art determined by its location? Providing a close examination of individual works of American art in relation to gallery and museum location, this anthology presents case studies of paintings, sculpture, photographs, and other media that explore these questions about the relationship between location and the prescribed meaning of art. It takes an alternate perspective in that it provides in-depth analysis of works of art that are less well known than the usual American art suspects, and in locations outside of art museums in major urban cultural centers. By doing so, the contributors to this volume reveal that such a shift in focus yields an expanded and more complex understanding of American art. Close examinations are given to works located in small and mid-sized art museums throughout the United States, museums that generally do not benefit from the resources afforded by more powerful cultural establishments such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Works of art located at institutions other than art museums are also examined. Although the book primarily focuses on paintings, other media created from the Colonial Period to the present are considered, including material culture and craft. The volume takes an inclusive approach to American art by featuring works created by a diverse group of artists from canonical to lesser-known ones, and provides new insights by highlighting the regional and the local.


    Cynthia Fowler

    Section I. Local History/Local Artists

    1. Miguel de Baca, Blurred Boundaries: La Muerte en su Carreta as Artifact and Symbol (Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO)

    2. Adrienne Baxter Bell, Echoes of the East, Echoes of the Past: Charles Caryl Coleman’s Azaleas and Apple Blossoms (de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, CA)

    3. Erika Schneider, Shot through the Heart, the Woman is to Blame: Philip Leslie Hale Performs a Symbolist Game (Danforth Art, Framingham, MA)

    4. Herbert Hartel, Raymond Jonson: A Southwestern Modernist Alone on the Prairies (Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE)

    5. Jessica Martin, At the Margins: The Undiscovered Art of Josephine Tota (Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY)

    Section II. Marginalized Works Reinterpreted

    6. Traci Costa, Edward Mitchell Bannister and the Aesthetics of Idealism (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC)

    7. Emily Burns, Wandering Pictures: Locating Cosmopolitanism Frederick A. Bridgman’s The Funeral of a Mummy on the Nile (Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY)

    8. Henry Adams, "The One I Most Love" - Thomas Eakins's Portrait of Samuel Murray (Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mount Vernon, IL)

    9. James Swenson, Maynard Dixon and the Forgotten Man (Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, UT)

    10. Jessica Murphy, Arthur Dove’s Carnival: Nature, Structure, and the Problem of Permanence (Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ)

    11. Lara Kuykendall, Palmer Hayden's John Henry Series: Inventing an American Hero (Museum of African American Art, Macy's department store, Los Angeles, CA)

    Section III. Art Outside of the Art Museum

    12. Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, The Portrait of Mary McIntosh Sargent in the Sargent House Museum: Slavery and "Natural Slavery" in Federalist Era America (Sargent House, Gloucester, MA)

    13. Sara Picard, An Oblique View of New Orleans's St. Louis Cathedral (Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, LA)

    14. Laura Smith, Complex Negotiations: Beadwork, Gender, and Modernism in Horace Poolaw’s Portrait of Two Kiowa Women (Nash Library, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, OK)

    15. Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf and Connie Cutler, Jean Helion, La Fille au Reflect de l'Homme (Portrait of Pegeen Guggenheim) (Peru High School, Peru, IN)

    16. Sandra Cheng, Silent Protest and the Art of Paper Folding: The Golden Venture Paper Sculptures at the Museum of Chinese in America (New York, NY)


    Cynthia Fowler is an art historian and Professor of Art at Emmanuel College, Boston, MA, USA.

    'Locating American Art is truly groundbreaking in every sense of the word. With its focus on lesser-known collections, this compendium of essays by a diverse group of scholars unearths manifold treasures in unexpected places far from the metropolis and its powerful institutions. Excitingly eclectic in its approach, the book embraces artists both canonical and obscure, celebrated and utterly unsung, and arrays them on a level playing field. It vividly suggests just how much there is still to discover by venturing beyond the center and delving wholeheartedly into the rich ground of the periphery. Altogether, Locating American Art is an invigorating departure from business as usual.' Sarah Burns, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

    'An impressive achievement, Locating American Art is a tightly knit anthology of case studies that shifts attention from our usual focus on major artworks in major collections to those that reside in university museums, historic houses, even high schools and department stores. Forcing us to recognize that the institution an artwork calls home shapes its interpretation, it implicitly critiques the canon and offers alternative narratives for art of the United States. The range of participating authors, their diverse methodologies and probing scholarship make this an exciting and significant volume. "Location, location, location," the mantra of real estate, should now also be embraced by art history. This book has the potential to be a game-changer.' Katherine Manthorne, City University of New York, USA