Emerson and Greenough: Transcendental Pioneers of an American Esthetic

Emerson and Greenough: Transcendental Pioneers of an American Esthetic

Emerson and Greenough: Transcendental Pioneers of an American Esthetic

Emerson and Greenough: Transcendental Pioneers of an American Esthetic

Excerpt

America may be said to have developed no positive esthetic until the decades preceding the Civil War. Not until the eighteen thirties and forties, when Ralph Waldo Emerson and his friend the sculptor Horatio Greenough began to make themselves heard, was there any dawning of a mature and independent awareness of problems relating to esthetic judgment and artistic performance. Not till then was there any independent examination and criticism of the European arts and esthetic theories which previously Americans had accepted reverently and without question, when not ignoring such matters altogether.

Emerson and Greenough were two of the chief pioneers of this reorientation. They were also pioneers of an organic esthetic in America itself--a branch . . .

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