By Karen L. Georgi
American Civil War–era artwork critics James Jackson Jarves, Clarence prepare dinner, and William J. Stillman labeled kinds and outlined paintings in phrases that experience develop into primary to our smooth periodization of the artwork of the 19th century. In Critical Shift, Karen Georgi rereads lots of their famous texts, discovering yes key discrepancies among their phrases and our historiography, pointing to unrecognized narrative wants. The booklet additionally experiences ruptures and innovative breaks among “old” and “new” artwork, in addition to the difficulty of the morality of “true” artwork. Georgi asserts that those ideas and their occasionally loaded expression have been a part of better rhetorical buildings that gainsay the makes use of to which the foremost phrases were installed smooth historiography.
It has been greater than fifty years considering the fact that a publication has been dedicated to interpreting the careers of those 3 critics, and not prior to has their position within the historiography and periodization of yank paintings been analyzed. The conclusions drawn from this shut rereading of recognized texts problem the basic nature of “historical context” in American artwork historical past.
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Extra info for Critical Shift: Rereading Jarves, Cook, Stillman, and the Narratives of Nineteenth-Century American Art
Both men are popular from their bias to the exaggerated and sensational, cultivating the forcible, common, and striking, at the expense of the higher qualities of art. (177–78) Leutze’s work is dramatic, vicious, exaggerated, and common, among other faults, and popular because of them. Evidently, Jarves found much to criticize in both Leutze and a public who liked such paintings. The “higher qualities of art” are missing from these paintings. But note that so, too, are they absent from Jarves’s sentences.
Finally, this reading of Jarves proposes a revision of his role among modern historians of American art. As noted at the outset, his current reputation deﬁnes him as an agent of change, a critic whose ostensible internationalism, exempliﬁed by the ﬁnal quotation above, has been thought to mark a shift between antebellum nativist art and post–Civil War interests in transatlantic cosmopolitanism with modernist aesthetic tendencies. His art theory and critical interests, however, do not readily ﬁt this model.
He refuted the assignment of ostensibly timeless non-art meaning to art; he refuted a metaphorical deﬁnition of art. Chapter 5 then takes up Stillman’s later writing and, in particular, the linguistic changes that accompanied his rejection of Ruskin. His language became much less metaphorical, and new forms replaced the earlier tropes. The chapter argues that the substantive criteria for Stillman’s post-Crayon deﬁnition for, and assessment of, art required a new critical language. As his Ruskinian deﬁnition had relied on those tropes discussed in the previous chapter, the later art theory was embodied in a less overtly ﬁgurative style.