Imagining America


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Icons of 20th-Century American Art

John Carlin and Jonathan Fineberg

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An innovative and dynamic look at 20-century American art, focusing on its relationship to the nation’s evolving identity and ambitions.

How did artists of the twentieth century use their work to respond to their unique personal experiences and moment in history? This provocative question is explored in this engaging new book on American art. By focusing on broad, defining themes, embodied in the work of such pivotal artists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, the authors look at how art provided a means for re-imagining America, visualizing what it had become, and where it might go in a century of turbulent change.

Richly illustrated with 400 color images, Imagining America is organized around three main themes: nature and the ways diverse artists responded to the transformation of the landscape  from pastoral to industrial; how artists as different as Thomas Eakins and Jackson Pollock demonstrated the perpetual inclination to reinvent both personal and national identity; and the ways that key artists like Stuart Davis, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat taught us to understand the media and popular culture on a deeper level. The authors also provide a context of social history and parallel developments in American music and film.

With an innovative design, a fabulous selection of iconic images, and an engaging juxtaposition of visual themes, Imagining America presents American art and artists in a completely new light.

John Carlin is an independent writer and curator. He is also chief executive officer of Funny Garbage, a premier media developer in New York City. Jonathan Fineberg is Gutgsell Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and author of the critically acclaimed textbook Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being.

Published in conjunction with a major PBS film of the same title, aired nationally in December 2005.

Click here to watch or download the film, along with teacher's guides put together by the Terra Foundation.

“A user-friendly ‘big-picture’ art history for lay people who want to understand what modern American art means and how it reflects the zeitgeist of the 20th century. . . . Carlin and Fineberg weave many such lovely threads of 19th- and 20th-century thought together, helping the reader get a sense of the depth and breadth of American expression. . . . Carlin and Fineberg intrigue us and keep us looking for more. This eminently readable book invites rereading.”—M.S. Mason, Christian Science Monitor

"The greatest hits of 20th-century American art sound their high notes in Imagining America. . . . Attractively designed, full of well-chosen reproductions, and enlivened by photographs of artists . . ., this informative and entertaining tour through 100 years of art history documents what happened after painters in this country turned their back[s] on Europe and figured out how to create something jazzy, utterly new, and uniquely American."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"A chic and graphically effervescent companion book . . . deserves . . . accolades for snazzy design layering that gives the reader options to take a visually opulent quick glide through or to linger and savor specific artworks or ideas."—Mary Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



"...there is a good deal of helpful art criticism...By making connections with music and literature, the artists are placed firmly in context - chronologically as well as geographically" - Stephen Patience, World of Interiors

Selected for Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2006
ISBN: 9780300109979
Publication Date: November 18, 2005
208 pages, 11.75 x 9.25
400 color illus.

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