Buildings and the Creation of an American Identity

Buildings and the Creation of an American Identity -...

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BUILDINGS AND THE CREATION OF AN AMERICAN IDENTITY There are four evolutionary aspects with regards to the arts – 1. Genuine distrust/suspicion of the arts a. John Adams and the arts – an “everyman,” “the age of painting and sculpture has not arrived in this country, and I hope it doesn’t arrive soon” (while he was president, he was asked to sit for a portrait and refused, giving that answer). He was afraid of the arts and it was not just Adams. b. Benjamin Rush “if they want to be poets, etc and nothing else, tell them to stay home.” - was well educated, surgeon general of the US, was a poet and a minister and was very concerned with the arts. While Adams was going to Catholic church trying to stop the arts, Rush wrote to friends and artists in Europe telling them to stay away. c. Frontier society – the US wasn’t very sophisticated and not interested in the arts because they had to struggle to live and have existence – but this doesn’t make much sense because there is tons of theoretical, abstract writing coming out of the US and that doesn’t seem practical in a frontier society. The Puritan approach to the arts was transmitted from one generation to the next and had more of an influence than other competitors. d. Puritan perceptions of the arts – these people did not trust art or emotions (where the arts come from). Paintings were not good – showing Jesus, showing Biblical scenes, people were instructed to THINK about Jesus, not FEEL Jesus. England, at the time, was one of the most empty (of art, especially religious) countries of the time. King Henry took out all of the art after the falling out with the Catholic Church. In Austria, and other countries in Europe, Baroque churches were popping up all over the place, creating pilgrimage sites for the devoted. This is what people in Europe experienced on a weekly basis: beautiful, grand, ornate, detailed, churches that allowed the peasants to get their artistic fix. 2. Attempt to use art to meet functional needs 3. Attempt to imitate Europeans (comparable to the gentry, equal to English cousins) 4. Development of American artistic (political) revolution (architects were developing a unique art to our country) Art as Rational 1. Puritan autobiographies and poetry – autobiographies were pretty much all the same, and were often created to help lead children to the arms of god. There was no reason to create landscape paintings, but portraits were important because it provided for a resource to use
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