Nocturne: Night in American Art, 1890-1917

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 2018 - Art - 242 pages
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A beautifully illustrated look at the vogue for night landscapes amid the social, political, and technological changes of modern America

The turn of the 20th century witnessed a surge in the creation and popularity of nocturnes and night landscapes in American art. In this original and thought-provoking book, Hélène Valance investigates why artists and viewers of the era were so captivated by the night. Nocturne examines works by artists such as James McNeill Whistler, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, Edward Steichen, and Henry Ossawa Tanner through the lens of the scientific developments and social issues that dominated the period. Valance argues that the success of the genre is connected to the resonance between the night and the many forces that affected the era, including technological advances that expanded the realm of the visible, such as electric lighting and photography; Jim Crow-era race relations; America's closing frontier and imperialism abroad; and growing anxiety about identity and social values amid rapid urbanization. This absorbing study features 150 illustrations encompassing paintings, photographs, prints, scientific illustration, advertising, and popular media to explore the predilection for night imagery as a sign of the times.

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part i
Vision Questioned
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Visions of the Mind and Spirit
part ii
Nostalgic Reminiscence
The Nocturne
The Figure in the Urban
The Urban Nocturne and the Redenition
Conclusion 205
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About the author (2018)

Hélène Valance is assistant professor at the Université de Franche-Comté.

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