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That commitment was demonstrated most dramatically in the Federal Art Project FAPa relief program for depression-era artists. Some painters and sculptors continued american looking for in their lookkng with the assistance of relief checks—their work was placed in libraries, schools, and other public buildings. Others lent their talents to community art centers that made art training and appreciation accessible to wider audiences. What Is American De? Constance Rourke American de has many ancestries, but this circumstance does not exclude the possibility of a distinctive character. All art is in some measure derivative; and for us, relationships with European de have been obvious and inevitable because of our origins and because of the many interchanges with Europe american looking for have belonged to our history from its inception.
That commitment was demonstrated most dramatically in the Federal Art Project FAPa relief program for depression-era artists. Some painters and sculptors continued working in their studios with the assistance of relief checks—their work was placed in libraries, schools, and other public buildings.
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Others lent their talents to community art centers that made art training and appreciation accessible to wider audiences. What Is American De?
Constance Rourke American de has many ancestries, but this circumstance does not exclude the possibility of a distinctive character. American looking for art is looiing some measure derivative; and for us, relationships with European de have been obvious ffor inevitable because of our origins and because of the many interchanges with Europe which have belonged to our history from its inception. These ancestral ties have perhaps received undue emphasis in the field of de; and the forthright adaptations, changes, and fresh inventions showing themselves on American soil have on the whole been neglected.
The impact of life on the frontier—on our many frontiers—through successive generations has continually produced simplifications even until a recent date, as local craftsmen have worked in new country, often without models, for impatient customers anxious to obtain objects american looking for immediate use A definite turn toward functionalism inevitably took loo,ing under these conditions.
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The highboy, useful in the compact frontier home because of its convenient and ample storage space, became a typical and widely spread form, which perhaps had its fir in conjunction with need—in inducing the selection of other pieces of furniture which were capacious, simple, american looking for strong enough to stand many removals by ox-cart or covered wagon.
Functionalism reached a peak in the craft of the Shaker communities in the last century, where every object was fluently given the form demanded by the uses to which it was to be put, where chests, for example, never followed a few stereotypes, but appeared in literally dozens of forms. Thus these little-known crafts represent a definite native impulse in American de.
Need, combined with thrift, american looking for the hooked rug and the patchwork quilt and the multitude of stoneware jugs, of many fine sculptural forms, made from local clays on our frontiers; and the great variations in these homely products suggest a further strong element which tended to enter, even to crowd into American de from an early date—pleasure in individual taste or idiosyncrasy.
Fof individualistic expression was not universal; often the craftsman lacked time for it. It does not appear in Shaker de at all, where the consciousness of the community was always uppermost, where the individual lost himself in the sense of the whole, and where in consequence an abstract or generic quality in de is strikingly apparent.
But elsewhere, individual assertions often appeared with great energy. The scrimshaw of American sailors on whaling ships is a prime example.
Though the tooling on bone or shell often followed well-known classical patterns, the modeling of small and beautiful ametican almost consistently reveals vigorous, free individual outlines that range from naturalism to abstraction. On a larger american looking for, figurehe of Atlantic sailing ships showed similar broad variations, including sculptures which were severely classical, others that were definitely Gothic, still others that developed realistic portraiture of native American types or even individuals.
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The aesthetic impulse which produced them was positive, generous, and widespread; it reappeared in the familiar cigar-store Indians and the many related figures which adorned stores or taverns and were often amazingly fine in plastic and decorative values. These often followed a type or a stereotype, yet a wide swing toward individualism often appeared in the handling of posture, costume, color, and, more broadly, form.
An unmistakable richness becomes clear as american looking for arts of de in this country are surveyed with anything more than a cursory glance. Their strong diversity is further indicated by two major classifications, the folk arts, and what, because of their origins, may be called the aristocratic forms. The latter obviously include the work of such distinguished craftsmen as Duncan Phyfe and the fine groups of furniture workers who flourished in seaboard cities from Boston to New Orleans in the first half of the nineteenth century.
On the other hand, the folk arts run all the way from homespuns american looking for simple furniture and ironwork to the distinctive creative forms of the Pennsylvania German and those of the old Spanish Southwest in painting or sculpture. Whether dominant and recurrent strains have been created which can be called distinctively American is a question that cannot be easily settled.
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We do not know enough. Whether in essentials such strains have survived the development of the machine, or have been lost, is another ificant problem. In our haste to conquer a continent, many examples and even whole phases of de have been covered over or neglected. The Index presents the decorative and utilitarian arts of this country broadly by the vivid means american looking for pictorial rendering, in american looking for large series of portfolios.
In any event, these many-sided and many-colored evidences will represent basic traditions in de which, as a people, americann the past, we have chosen as our own. Adolph Glassgold At no time in the history of our country had there been undertaken a comprehensive survey of American de comparable to those publications in Europe with which lookimg are americna familiar.
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This lookint in part due to our relative unconcern with our own cultural traditions, and in part to the lloking of the undertaking. But within recent years that indifference toward our artistic loking gave place to an avid interest. It became generally felt and variously expressed that we had too long neglected that phase of our cor heritage which had evidenced itself in the humbler arts and crafts, and that the picture of our plastic tradition would be incomplete if limited to the so-called fine arts.
Not only would one have to spend much time tracing articles in scattered periodicals, or consulting unrelated volumes, but american looking for would be found, by and large, inadequately illustrated, and vast areas, such as the folk arts, or the handicrafts, or religious communities, sparsely treated. Under trained supervision and with the assistance of research workers, the four to five hundred artists variously employed on the Index throughout the country make colored drawings or paintings of selected objects in public and private collections.
It is no exaggeration to say that many of the plates done by the Index artists are without parallel in the field of illustration by reason of their high fidelity to the original object, their accuracy of color and draftsmanship, their sense of material and texture. american looking for
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Particular attention is given to material which ameeican not been studied or illustrated elsewhere, and emphasis is placed upon those examples which may be considered typical. It is, of course, too much to expect this first project for an Index of American De to do an encyclopaedic work.
That would be too ambitious a program for any department other than one operating on a permanent basis. It is possible, however, to do the preliminary spadework, to produce a of selected, beautifully colored portfolios which can be made accessible to scholars, teachers, artists, deers, and to the general public interested in the arts as exemplifying cultural traditions.
A dozen portfolios have already been definitely outlined and american looking for are well under way. All material collected by the Index llooking American De units in the various states will finally be edited and correlated by amefican central planning committee composed of the administrative staff and a body of specialists in the various fields of the decorative and useful arts. Of particular interest is the amwrican being carried on in the more obscure fields of American De.
The Pennsylvania unit, for example, is doing an exhaustive piece of work on the Pennsylvania-German culture; Northern California is american looking for engaged in reconstructing the era of mining and the riotous expansion of the seventies; Minnesota is specializing in the early contributions made to American de by the Swedish immigrant; Louisiana has produced more than a hundred plates of the exquisite costumes typical of ante-bellum New Orleans; Utah is recording the applied arts of the Mormons; New England, with contributions from Ohio and Kentucky, is making what will probably be the first definitive compilation in color of the practical arts of the Shaker Colonies; and here and there, the little known and less appreciated folk arts, such as ships' figurehe, tavern and storefront figures, the nautical arts of scrimshaw and bone carving, are being recorded.
It would be futile to argue that this is not a possibility.
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Yet to contend, on thisthat the Index should not be compiled would be equally absurd. Imitation, even slavish copying, has always existed, and for those who practice it, models are never lacking.
As it is, units in New Mexico, Colorado, and Southern California are making plates which when published will come as a pleasant surprise to many. Along with this factual task, Southern California is performing looming valuable service.
There, in the old mission, the Index workers, removing layer on layer of whitewash from the walls, are disclosing painted ornamentation hidden for decades. These they then record with the utmost fidelity of drawing and color.
Exhibitions of Index plates throughout the country have already done much to stimulate interest in our de heritage. About twenty exhibitions have been held in large department stores, including Marshall Field of Chicago, R. Louis, Hutzler Bros.
The material has been shown in about thirty American looking for Art Centers and by a large of cultural organizations, such as the University of Pittsburgh, the University of California, and Yale University. A vast of hitherto disregarded or little-known collections and individual items of Americana have been brought to light as a result of these shows.
We must also mention the constantly growing body of research material which constitutes a background for the drawings and photographs. Exhaustive lists of craftsmen, biographical sketches of artisans and deers, stories of historical interest about the original owners and the manufacturers, looiing sidelights on the vicissitudes of the objects themselves are forming a vast reservoir of illuminating information about the material gathered by the Index.
Fresh knowledge about American de lookiing deers is continually being unearthed by Index research workers who study the yellowed files of old journals, newspapers and documentary records in museums, historical societies, and libraries. The varied character and forms of American de stand at last in the way of being presented as a comprehensible whole. What it may mean to the cultural future of America one cannot american looking for this time prophesy, but that its meaning is american looking for than mere antiquarianism is self-evident.
Source: Available in Francis V.