Associated American Artists: Art by Subscription

By Johnson, Mark M. | Arts & Activities, June 2010 | Go to article overview

Associated American Artists: Art by Subscription


Johnson, Mark M., Arts & Activities


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Associated American Artists: Art by Subscription features over 70 limited-edition, original wood engravings, etchings, aquatints and mezzotints created by some of America's most recognizable artists, including Peggy Bacon, Thomas Hart Benton, John Costigan, Miguel Covarrubias, John Steuart Curry, Mabel Dwight, Doris Lee, Luigi Lucioni, Reginald Marsh, Sam Thal and Grant Wood.

The artworks in this exhibition were created and published between 1935 and 1968 for the Associated American Artists (AAA), an organization and a gallery established in New York City in 1934 by art promoter and publicist Reeves Lewenthal (1910-1987).

In the 1930s, thousands of banks in America failed, the United States was gripped by an economic depression, and the emotional climate of the American people was at a low point. It was one of the most trying times in the country's history.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Reeves Lewenthal chose this time in history to form the organization, Associated American Artists, in which he designed an extraordinarily innovative system to sell and distribute affordable, original artworks to every American citizen. He met with several well-known artists, including Thomas Hart Benton, and proposed hiring each of them to produce etchings that he, in turn, would sell to middle-class buyers for $5 apiece, plus $2 for the frame.

As an art dealer and promoter, Lewenthal knew the artists, their talents and their frustrations. He also knew the market for original art was modest--after all, most of the country was rural and many people did not live near an art gallery or art museum, nor did they have the income to purchase original art.

To make this visionary art program possible, Lewenthal set out to secure financial assistance from several individuals and organizations. Not surprisingly, he received only resounding, emphatic "NOs!" "People are clamoring for bread and YOU want to give them ART?!"

It would be almost two years until Lewenthal was able to successfully sell his idea and obtain the backing he needed to launch his project to make original, fine art, at affordable prices, available to the general public.

Participating artists gladly committed themselves to the idea of a wider distribution of their art; however, this also meant enormous price concessions as many commercial galleries refused to represent them if they signed on with AAA. Leaving behind abstract theories and images, these artists based their art on the social imagery of everyday America and the familiar scenery of the country. They created positive, realist images of a strong and idealized America. In this regard, they were at the forefront of the rapidly developing American Regionalist movement.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Lewenthal ingeniously used the post office as his means of distribution; AAA printed and distributed sales catalogs throughout America, allowing citizens to browse through them at their leisure. He also marketed direct to the public via mail order in magazines such as Time and Reader's Digest. Several department stores also carried AAA prints.

As a result, budding collectors sprang up across the country. Americans eagerly filled long pent-up cultural voids, and the program was an overwhelming success. People did need bread to nourish their bodies, but it was proven they hungered for beauty and spiritual nourishment, as well. Art fed their souls. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Associated American Artists: Art by Subscription
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.