Modern American Painters

Modern American Painters

Modern American Painters

Modern American Painters

Excerpt

I have made no attempt in this book to discover nationalistic painters. The word American has nothing to do with painting; it is simply a descriptive word representing the nation in which the artist works. I am concerned solely with what painters in America are trying to accomplish.

Our more zealous chauvinists are demanding a national art. The newly awakened art public has begun to speculate upon the best painter in America, and, particularly, upon the best American painter. 100% Americanism is being brought to art as its reason for being; the patrioteers are in full scent for some one to tag with the title The Great American Painter. It is the same cry raised by the public and our esteemed literary critics when they sought The Great American Novelist--and pounced upon Theodore Dreiser. Dreiser's descriptive journalism is now being put into paint by Burchfield and Hopper, and already I have heard them hailed as our American white hopes. Are we to dismiss Weber, Blume and Sterne because of their Russian heritage? Is the Japanese Kuniyoshi eligible for honors? It would be wise to test the worth of each painter as an artist. The Spaniard Picasso, the Russian Chagall, the Greek- Italian Chirico all paint in Paris, but no French nationalism is demanded of them. If a good artist happens, quite by his own feeling and tradition, to appear distinctly American, add that to his credit side if you will, but there seems little to gain in beseeching our painters to portray American scenes. Nostalgia also can be purchased on post-cards.

I have not attempted to go into the complete history of the modern movement, which readers will find admirably outlined in the writings of Meier-Graeffe, Roger Fry, Clive Bell, Maurice Raenal, and, particularly, in the excellent The Modern Movement in Art by R. H. Wilenski. The important renaissance now assuming form in Mexico is described in Anita Brenner's understanding Idols Behind Altars.

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