History of America, or art in America, or American art, or . . .

Brilliant piece from Grant Snider — history teachers, this should be a poster in your classroom, no?  Art teachers?

Grant Snider's

Grant Snider’s “American Art, exploring a country through its paintings”

In the course of a junior-level, high school U.S. history class, students should experience each of these works, and many others.  This is one whimsical way to work with serious and uplifting material, no?

Mr. Snider has a short essay — inspiring — and the information on each of the works he portrays, at the Modern Art site (I’ve added links below, here).

Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art. Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:

Jasper Johns, “Flag”

Edward Hopper,Morning Sun

Ellsworth Kelly, “Red Blue Green”

Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”

Grant Wood, “Young Corn”

Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”

Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”

Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”

George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”

Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”

What are your favorite American art works, and what do they portray or demonstrate that you like?


8 Responses to History of America, or art in America, or American art, or . . .

  1. onkelbob says:

    You were correct in the first response, the word is Liberty. It was on the first coins and has been a fixture on all but one. Indeed, there is a Barber coin called the “Liberty” Nickel. Note that often Liberty was in the headband of the model, not separated as it is today, so a glance at the coin may not reveal it. E Pluribus Unum is absent on a number of coins including the one I’m am referencing.
    The next hint, the coin is the only coin of US mintage featuring motion. It is that motion that describes the concept of liberty.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    “E pluribus unum” seems to appear on every coin except the Kennedy fifty-cent piece. The seal of the U.S. is on the reverse.

    Onkel Bob, you’ve stopped me.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Wow! Heckuva question.

    Current coins? If so, how about the word “Liberty?”

    Now, on which coin is it represented graphically (if that’s the answer!)?


  4. onkelbob says:

    Part of the problem I see here is this obsession, or just stuck in the rut idea, that flat is what constitutes art. Moreover, that these examples constitute some history of art in America borders on ludicrous. (And by the way only Grant wood constitutes a Modern artist, the rest are Expressionist or “Pop” Modern art period ends at the start of WWII)
    You want art – historical art – then look in your pocket. I would need to dig out a few papers to find the citation but it was George Fraser who observed that coins represent a unique place, being both an example of fine and decorative art wrapped in a historical document. In the 20th century the US produced what is described as the most beautiful coin (the Saint-Gaudens double eagle), Fraser’s Indian head / Buffalo nickel, the Mercury dime, the last of the Morgan and Barber dollars/half dollars/quarters, as well as the introduction of the portrait coins:Lincoln penny, Jefferson nickel, Roosevelt dime, Franklin/Kennedy half dollar, Moreover, the mint also started the commemorative coins projects celebrating numerous events in history.
    And for your bonus, one phrase or word appears on all US coins, with a lone exception, where the concept is described graphically. Name the the phrase or word, and the coin that uses an image instead of it. Hint, Sam Chase ain’t the answer.


  5. Ellie says:

    I will agree with you about “Sky Above Clouds III,” Ed. Snider’s clouds remind me of clouds. O’Keefe’s clouds always reminded me of bleached out lily pads…of course, maybe that’s what she was going for. I prefer her flowers, especially the red snapdragons.

    And coming in at around 6th or 7th, is Alexander Calder. I’d like to see what Snider would do with his paintings (obviously, it would be more difficult to work with the mobiles and sculptures).


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    I like Snider’s version of “Sky Above Clouds III” better than O’Keefe’s. I think he improves on it.


  7. Ellie says:

    Favorites? Almost anything other than Pollock! Noise and chaos describes him perfectly — or at least, his work.

    If I had to pick only one…and what a difficult thing that is! If I had to pick only one, it would be John Singer Sargent, “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.” That’s because I can get lost in its beauty, even though I know that the flowers were dead and it was cold by the time he finished. His most moving painting would be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gassed_%28painting%29

    Now I’m going to go and decide who would take 2nd, 3rd, 4th……25th place. Love the drawing. Thanks.


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