Revisiting the white city: American art at the 1893 World's Fair

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National Portrait Gallery, 1993 - Art - 408 pages
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When the doors to the Fine Arts Palace at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago opened in the spring of 1893, the American art inside was heralded as a triumph. Writing in Century Magazine, art critic Marianna G. Van Rensselaer proclaimed, "The Columbian Exhibition will prove to the most doubting and critical spirit that American art exists, that it is capable of great things, and that it can do great things in a way distinctly its own." Fairgoers were treated to achievements such as Thomas Eakins's Gross Clinic, Winslow Homer's Eight Bells, Eastman Johnson's Cranberry Harvest, and countless other now well-known works, in addition to pieces by many lesser-known artists. Not only did the exposition show the apogee of American art, it also occurred at a moment of immense cultural change - two significant indications being Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis on the closing of the frontier and the recently completed national census which announced the population's shift from rural to urban areas. As Evan Turner, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, has said, "The Fair shaped national culture as has no other event in the history of the country." The National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian institution spent five years researching the paintings and sculpture shown at the exposition and have jointly produced this - comprehensive commemorative volume and a centennial exhibition. A color plate section highlights 100 works of art featured in the exhibition. Historian Robert Rydell discusses the historical and cultural context of the fair, and Carolyn Kinder Carr adds to an understanding of the regional and gender prejudices that pervaded theAmerican art arena at the time. An extensive catalogue section updates the complete 1893 checklist, providing much new information on the 521 artists and locations of the objects, and offering descriptions and illustrations of well over three-fourths of the 1,184 works originally di

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About the author (1993)

Carolyn Kinder Carr is the deputy director and chief curator of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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