Hamlin Garland's Early Work and Career

By Donald Pizer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
IMPRESSIONISM AND THE CENTRAL ART ASSOCIATION (1894-1895)

I

ONE OF THE peculiarities of Garland's early career was the dichotomy he maintained after 1892 between his activities and beliefs on the one hand and his literary work on the other. He seems to have felt that though he would no longer deal with certain ideas or material in his fiction or criticism, he could and should continue to work personally for these ideas. just as Garland's discontinuation of political-economic fiction did not terminate his single-tax efforts, so his withdrawal from controversial critical writing after the publication of Crumbling Idols did not end his participation in art reform. Earlier, he had attempted to promote a native American drama by means of an independent theater. With his move to Chicago he turned his attention toward the encouragement of native American painting, an activity which was closely related to his interest in impressionism and which occupied him much during 1894-1895.

In his History of Impressionism John Rewald noted that Garland's chapter on impressionism in Crumbling Idols"presents what is probably the first all-out defense of the movement to be written in English."1 This defense was not the result of a momentary or superficial enthusiasm on Garland's part. Rather, it derived from his close association with and great interest in the movement since July, 1885, when at one of his lectures at Mrs. Payson's he had met John J. Enneking, an impressionist landscape painter.

At that time impressionism was little known or practiced in

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