Modern Art in America

By Martha Candler Cheney | Go to book overview
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11. THE MEANING OF MODERNISM: A SUMMARY

AMERICA can no longer be called a nation without the capacity to make an art of her own. We have such an art, and there are two orders of accomplishment by which it may be judged.

We have a large pictorial and sculptural record of American life, rich in regional and human diversities of character and in the thought, feeling, and idealism of the people. This broadly representative popular record in painting and sculpture is significant because it affirms a new relationship between artist and society, of a kind and on a scale that this country has not known before and that has been little known in any country in recent centuries.

We have also, among the producers of this art, or side by side with them, the always necessarily smaller number of true creators of high rank, who are demonstrating their power of independent aesthetic expression and are giving us, in the terms of their own original experience, works that are worthy to stand with the abiding art products of past periods.

Many influences, since the opening of the century, have been active in the direction of a social and regional art expression in America, but it is due to the activities of the Federal Government as sponsor and patron--according to policies put into effect between 1933 and 1935--that the present comprehensive development of nationalization in that art has come about. The combined statesmanship and imaginative daring of Edward Bruce (himself an able artist

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