By Thomas Gaehtgens
American painters and photograph artists of the eighteenth and 19th centuries sought idea for his or her paintings within the uniquely American event of historical past and nature. the end result was once a metamorphosis of the normal previous international visible language into an indigenous and populist New international syntax. The twelve essays during this quantity discover the advance of a frontier mythology, a democratic kind depicting universal humans and items, and an American inventive awareness and id. Conceived and written from the views of either cultural and paintings historians, American Icons initiates an interdisciplinary dialogue at the complicated relationships among American and eu artwork.
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Additional resources for American Icons: Transatlantic Perspectives on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century American Art (Issues & Debates)
Native Americans, one could say with justice and appropriateness, were neither here nor there as far as these monuments, their makers, and their patronage were concerned. We might begin to appreciate the essentially self-reflexive significance of American typologies of the Landing of Columbus and their relation to racial issues throughout the century by comparing them to European treatments of the event. While scenes of Columbus's departure from Palos and of his triumphant return to the court after his first voyage not surprisingly predominate in Italian, French, and Spanish art, "Landings" appear with enough frequency to identify exemplary canvases.
As Columbus pointed out to his sponsors, the slaves he took on the islands he "discovered" were only those natives who were cannibals and so beyond redemption. After he had taken nearly five hundred Native Americans as slaves, it began to look as though he meant to designate nearly all the native inhabitants unredeemable. 10 Oddly, an oil sketch of 1840 (fig. 6) for Vanderlyn's mural differs so pointedly it might stand as a contradiction to the attitude toward Native Americans that one senses in the finished work.
Most Westerners know the word "Indian" reveals that Columbus did not in fact realize where he was. Such is the flexibility of myth, however, that it has been possible to acknowledge his error without relinquishing the belief that his achievement lay in his ability to discover what became the United States of America. And such is the empowerment to be gleaned from myths of beginning that Americans could use as part of their arsenal of symbolic sanctions for the destruction of the native inhabitants the image of Columbus, destroyer of the Native Americans in the first encounter of the races.
American Icons: Transatlantic Perspectives on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century American Art (Issues & Debates) by Thomas Gaehtgens