Industrial Sublime

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Modernism and the Transformation of New York's Rivers, 1900-1940
Edited by Kirsten Jensen, and Bartholomew F. Bland, Introduction by Katherine Manthorne

ISBN: 9780943651446
Paperback
Copublished with the Hudson River Museum
9 1/2 x 13
200 Pages
150 Color Illustrations
November 2013

Price: $35.00
To learn more about the ESE imprint, visit Empire State Editions.

Industrial Sublime

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It was not until the first decade of the twentieth century, as artists like Robert Henri and John Sloan turned their attention to the urban scene, that American art shifted its focus from bucolic landscapes to the cities, the towns, the crowds, especially the raucous urban scene of Manhattan—by then the nation’s most important metropolis.

This movement away from painting the land to painting the life on the street is often seen as a clean break with the depiction of the landscape, and with landscape painting generally as a mainstay of American art in the face of European Modernism. However, artists continued to paint the Hudson River, as well as its tributaries, the Harlem and East rivers, and the great harbor of New York City into which they flowed. What was different was their approach. Having jettisoned the romantic ideals of their forebears, artists like Henri and Sloan, and later, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Ault, Edward Hopper, and Preston Dickinson, celebrated the changing way of life along the city’s waterfront. As the century progressed, they did so with sharper focus and with ideals borrowed from the Machine Age. Instead of majestic mountain ranges, their subjects were the arching bridges, swinging cranes, and streamlined ocean liners resting in the harbor. These artists took the elements of the Sublime, combined them with Modernism’s interest in structure and form, and applied them to the manmade industrial one—thereby creating a new visual vocabulary for the twentieth century: the Industrial Sublime.

Industrial Sublime takes as its focus this shift in both style and sensibility during the years 1900-1940, and explores the development of a new mode of landscape painting and pictorial ideals suited to America’s role as a global industrial power.

Co-published with the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers. The exhibition Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York’s Rivers, 1900-1940 runs from October 12, 2013, through January 17, 2014. Visit www.hrm.org for more information.

 
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