The Civil War and American Art
The Civil War redefined America and forever changed American art. Its grim reality, captured through the new medium of photography, was laid bare. American artists could not approach the conflict with the conventions of European history painting, which glamorized the hero on the battlefield. Instead, many artists found ways to weave the war into works of art that considered the human narrative—the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind. Artists and writers wrestled with the ambiguity and anxiety of the Civil War and used landscape imagery to give voice to their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation.
This important book looks at the range of artwork created before, during, and following the war, in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America's finest artists, including Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy H. O'Sullivan.
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The Civil War and American ArtUser Review - Book Verdict
Harvey's (chief curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum; An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection) extensive catalog assesses the impact of a national cataclysm—the American Civil War—on landscape, genre painting, and the then-new medium of photography. Other than Winslow Homer, not many artists have been studied in relation to the war's impact on their work. Here Harvey looks closely at works created between the late 1850s and the centennial year 1876 to demonstrate how the conflict shaped visual culture even when it was not its direct subject matter. Although photographers brought the battlefield to civilians in ways not previously possible, no great historical paintings emerged from the carnage. And although abolition and emancipation were topics of visual interest in many media, in the end American artists turned away from an antebellum focus on nationality and towards a postwar interest in cosmopolitism, and particularly the Paris-centered contemporary-European art world. VERDICT Harvey skillfully integrates literature and journalism into a thoughtful and rich narrative of this pivotal period. An important cohesive assessment for scholars that is also broadly accessible and well-illustrated, this book is recommended for all collections.—Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Libs.
Review: The Civil War and American ArtUser Review - Goodreads
I requested this book as a review copy from NetGalley because of my fascination with the Civil War and my love for photography. I must admit I never considered how a painter might interpret current ...