Locating American Art: Finding Art's Meaning in Museums, Colonial Period to the Present, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Locating American Art

Finding Art's Meaning in Museums, Colonial Period to the Present, 1st Edition

Edited by Cynthia Fowler


316 pages

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Hardback: 9781472467997
pub: 2015-12-28
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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.


'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

Table of Contents

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

List of Illustrations

Table: Art Museums Represented in the Anthology


List of Contributors

List of Contributors for Locating American Art

Henry Adams, Ph.D., is a graduate of Harvard University and received his MA and Ph.D. from Yale, where he received the Frances Blanshard Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in art history.  He is the author of over 350 articles in the American field, both scholarly and popular, and of 14 books, including Eakins Revealed, which the painter Andrew Wyeth described as "without question the most extraordinary biography I have ever read on an artist."  In June 2010 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Cleveland Arts Prize.

Adrienne Baxter Bell, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College, New York. Her scholarship focuses on nineteenth-century American art and its resonances in contemporary art. She is the author of several studies on George Inness, including George Inness and the Visionary Landscape (2003) and George Inness: Writings and Reflections on Art and Philosophy (2007). Her interest in the role of embodiment in art is reflected in her essay "Body-Nature-Paint: Embodying Experience in Gilded Age American Landscape Painting," published in The Cultured Canvas: New Perspectives on American Landscape Painting (2012).

Emily C. Burns, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Art History at Auburn University. Her research considers visual culture and transatlantic exchange between France and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She received her doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis. Her projects have been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Baird Library Society of Fellows, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the Walter Read Hovey Memorial Foundation.

Sandra Cheng, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art history at New York City College of Technology/City University of New York. She has received the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship and the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Her research interests include the history of collecting, drawing and studio practice; the history of monstrosity; and the history of photography. She is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who fled China during the Cultural Revolution.

Kimberlee Cloutier Blazzard, Ph.D., is the communications manager at the Sargent House Museum.  She currently serves as founding editor and publisher at Open Inquiry Archive, an independent, curated site for the e-publication of scholarly occasional papers. An independent scholar, she taught art history at Boston area colleges for fifteen years and has published on topics related to Northern European and American art.  She

received her M.A. and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Virginia.

Traci Costa completed her M.A. in art and architectural history at Roger Williams University in the spring 2015. She received her B.A. in art therapy from Emmanuel College in 2010. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was an intern in art education at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. She has held positions in public programming at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art and at the Gallery Night Providence Organization. Her master's thesis focuses on the relationship between art and philosophy through the reinterpretation of works by nineteenth-century African American artist Edward Mitchell Bannister. 

Constance L. Cutler is the curator for the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery in Peru, Indiana.  She is a graduate of Purdue University, and has worked with the collection for several years.  She originated the Arts Alive! program, which uses the art collection for educational purposes for Peru Community Schools and surrounding areas.

Miguel de Baca, Ph.D., is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Assistant Professor in the Humanities at Lake Forest College, where he is the chair of the American Studies program and an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History. He earned his Ph.D. degree in American Studies from Harvard University in 2009, and has held research fellowships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Dumbarton Oaks. His scholarly interests include issues of memory, reference, and abstraction in modern and contemporary American art, and he is the author of a book on the Minimalist sculptor Anne Truitt, forthcoming in 2016.

Cynthia Fowler, Ph.D. is Professor of Art at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. Her scholarship centers around American art in the first half of the twentieth century with an focus on textiles and women's artistic production. Her book Hooked Rugs: Encounters in American Modern Art, Craft and Design (Ashgate) was published in 2013. She has received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, the Winterthur Museum, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 2002.

Herbert R. Hartel, Jr., Ph.D,. is an art historian and specialist in twentieth century American painting and sculpture.  He has presented papers and published articles on Raymond Jonson, Arthur Dove, Agnes Martin, Philip Evergood, Georgia O'Keeffe and Clyfford Still.  Currently, he is Adjunct Associate Professor of Art History at Hofstra University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.  He has also taught art history at Parsons School of Design, Baruch College, York College, Pratt Institute and Fordham University.  He received his Ph.D. in modern and American art history from the CUNY Graduate Center. 

Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she teaches classes on modern, contemporary, and American art.  She earned her Ph.D. in art history and American studies from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her recent publications include "'Train up a child in the way he should go:' the image of idealized childhood in the slavery debate, 1850-1870" in James Marten, ed. Children and Youth in the Civil War Era (New York University Press, 2012) and "'The Earlier, Wilder Image:' Early Artists of the American West" in Gordon Bakken, ed. The World of the American West (Routledge, 2011).

Lara Kuykendall, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Art History at Ball State University where she teaches courses on American art, the history of photography, museum studies, and art criticism and theory. She holds a Ph.D. in American art from the University of Kansas. Her research explores issues of national identity in American visual culture of the 1930s and 1940s and examines ways in which artists used heroic imagery to understand and critique the changing social and political fabric of the United States.

Jessica Marten is Curator in Charge/Curator of American Art at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. She specializes in American art of the early twentieth century and oversees the Gallery's American art from the colonial to contemporary, African, Oceanic, Native American, and Ancient American collections. Her exhibition and catalog, Art for the People: Carl W. Peters and the Rochester WPA Murals (2015) highlights preparatory studies by Carl W. Peters for extant Works Progress Administration murals in Rochester.

Jessica Murphy, Ph.D, specializes in American art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware and wrote her dissertation on American Modernism and the female artists of the Stieglitz Circle. She has worked as a research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she contributed to the publications Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O’Keeffe and The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925, and as a curatorial assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She currently works in audience engagement at the Brooklyn Museum and gives gallery lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Sara Picard, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of art history at Rhode Island College. She held a Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art for the first critical study of antebellum New Orleans artist Jules Lion and is currently extending this research for a book on the history of mixed black and white race Americans in visual culture. Her writing has appeared in the SECAC Review,  The Journal of Southern History, and Louisiana History.

Erika Schneider is Associate Professor of Art History at Framingham State University where she teaches courses in modern, contemporary, and American art history.  She received her Ph.D. from Temple University.  Her dissertation, a revised version which is under contract for publication, investigates the representation of the struggling artist in antebellum America.  She has published chapters in books, including "Talisman for the Symbolist Movement: Puvis de Chavannes’ Hope" (2009), and "Against the Tide: Paul Gauguin’s Watery Women and Their Symbolist Legacy" (2010), considers the role of American artists in the Symbolist movement. She received an inaugural Fulbright-Terra Foundation Award in the History of American Art to teach in the Netherlands in fall 2015.

Laura E. Smith, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art history at Michigan State University and affiliated faculty with MSU's American Indian Studies Program.  She teaches North American art, Native North American art, and the history of photography.  Her research examines the entrenched distinctions between Indians and modernity that have largely prevented scholarly recognition of indigenous North American artists as modernists.  Most recently, she published an essay "Beaded Buckskins and Bad-Girl Bobs: Kiowa Female Identity, Industry, and Activism in Horace Poolaw’s Portraits," in the catalogue for the exhibition Photographer Horace Poolaw: The Calendar-Maker’s Son, at The National Museum of the American Indian, New York City,  September 2014 - February 2015.  Her book Horace Poolaw, Photographer of American Indian Modernity (University of Nebraska Press) will be released Spring 2016.

James R. Swensen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art history and the history of photography at Brigham Young University. He has recently completed two books on photography including Picturing Migrants an investigation of the connections between John Steinbeck¹s The Grapes of Wrath and FSA photography, which will be published by the University of Oklahoma Press. His article "Focusing on the Migrant: Dorothea Lange and the John Steinbeck Committee, 1938," appears in the 2013 anthology

Ambivalent American: The Political Companion to John Steinbeck (University

of Kentucky Press).

Introduction 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)

About the Editor

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

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General
ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / Permanent Collections
ART / Criticism & Theory
ART / History / General
ART / American / General
ART / Museum Studies
HISTORY / United States / General