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Arts & Entertainment > Visual Arts
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What kind of information materials are available?
CD: Texts available on CD version.Texts available in multiple languages.

Background The Arts
American Association of Museums
American Masters Database: Visual Arts (PBS)
American Photography - The First Century (PBS)
ArtLex - Dictionary of Visual Art
Art on Edge
Arts in America - Visual Arts: Blurring the Boundaries (IIP) CD
AskArt (American Artists Bluebook)
Museums Online

National Museum of Women in the Arts
PBS Arts - Fine Arts
PBS Arts - Photography

Exhibits - Digital Images
America in Caricature: 1765-1865 (University of Indiana)
American Art - Historical Periods (Los Angeles County Museum of Art
American Museum of Photography: Exhibitions
Archive of Early American Images (Brown University)
Cartoon Art Museum San Francisco
Creative Americans - Portraits by Carl Van Vechten (American Memory, Library of Congress)
Designs for Democracy (National Archives)
Drawing from Life - Caricatures & Cartoons (Smithsonian Institution Libraries)
George Eastman House - International Museum of Photography and Film
Historic Photograph Collection (National Park Service)
Labor Arts (NYU Bobst Library)
Multiplex: Directions in Art 1970 to Now (Museum of Moder Art)
National Portrait Gallery
Panorama: The North American Landscape in Art (Virtual Museum Canada)
Panoramic Photographs (National Archives)
Panoramic Photographs - Taking the Long View 1851-1991 (American Memory, Library of Congress)
Photographs from the Chicago Daily News 1902-33 (American Memory, Library of Congress)
Picture Collection Online (New York Public Library)
Picturing the Century (National Archives)
Smithsonian Archives of American Art - Exhibits
Quilts and Quiltmaking in America (American Memory, Library of Congress)
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America, Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920 (American Memory, Library of Congress)
Washington as It Was, Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959 (American Memory, Library of Congress)

Matthew Ritchie
Matthew Ritchie is known both for the cosmology he has created on his Web site and for his abstract, highly complex wall paintings and floor works. (Photo by Todd Eberle. Vanity Fair, February 2000)

The museums and monuments that line the National Mall in Washington D.C. house an enormous collection of art and artifacts that document both the past and present of American art and society. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, the newest attraction on the National Mall, is a place to rest among shady trees, water, and modern artworks.

America's first well-known school of painting, the Hudson River school, appeared in 1820. As with music and literature, this development was delayed until artists perceived that the New World offered subjects unique to itself. The Hudson River painters' directness and simplicity of vision influenced such later artists as Winslow Homer, who depicted rural America. Middle-class city life found its painter in Thomas Eakins, an uncompromising realist whose unflinching honesty undercut the genteel preference for romantic sentimentalism. Much of American painting and sculpture since 1900 has been a series of revolts against tradition. "To hell with the artistic values," announced Robert Henri. He was the leader of what critics called the "ash-can" school of painting, after the group's portrayals of the squalid aspects of city life. 

After World War II, a group of young New York artists formed the first native American movement to exert major influence on foreign artists: abstract expressionism. Among the movement's leaders were Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. Members of the next artistic generation favored a different form of abstraction: works of mixed media. Among them were Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, who used photos, newsprint, and discarded objects in their compositions. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, and Roy Lichtenstein, reproduced, with satiric care, everyday objects and images of American popular culture - Coca-Cola bottles, soup cans, comic strips. Today artists in America tend not to restrict themselves to schools, styles, or a single medium. Perhaps the most influential 20th-century American contribution to world art has been a mocking playfulness, a sense that a central purpose of a new work is to join the ongoing debate over the definition of art itself.

Today artists in America tend not to restrict themselves to schools, styles, or a single medium. "American art" is no longer a simple matter of geography, national origin, or point of view. Instead, the globalization of markets, the ease of international communication, and the nomadic movement of artists from one country to another have all contributed to an art world without firm concepts of national identity. It is no longer possible to write about contemporary art in the United States as a series of formal developments or as an orderly succession of movements. Instead, art becomes a way of filtering the multifarious and contradictory information that bombards us from every direction. Free to draw from every discipline, every art tradition, and every mode of presentation, contemporary art turns out to be just as complex, provocative, and intellectually demanding as the world that has produced it.


For High School Students
Art Junction
Internet Public Library Kidspace: Museums
Internet Public Library Teenspace: Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Explore and Learn

Teacher Resources
AccessArt: Online Workshops
Art Junction
Classroom Resources (National Gallery of Art)
Exploring Themes in American Art (National Gallery of Art)
PBS for Teachers: Visual Arts (PBS)

  Link Lists
Art on the Net
Internet Public Library: Visual Arts
Museum Sites Online

World Wide Arts Resources
Yahoo: Visual Arts
Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
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Updated: December 2008