Patriotism can involve loving one’s homeland for the diversity of cultural enclaves it encompasses, while not excluding the rest of humanity or claiming the superiority of our homeland to every other on earth. To be sure, global thinking (in the form of economic globalization or cultural imperialism) has a lot of negative baggage attached to it, but having a cosmopolitan outlook should be encouraged in tandem with patriotic thinking, not seen as its opposite.
I have often asked myself what exactly is the meaning of the term “American art” and why museums of American art are important. In this particular historical moment, can an art museum help to build a sense of common commitment to a place, a set of ideals, and one another?
In the spring of 2015, I taught a survey of American art to 1945 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). My plan was to offer a course that challenged the established canon of white, male artists of privilege, and I assigned the insightful American Encounters as the main textbook for the course.
Jules Prown’s approach to making and teaching art history is among the most well documented methodologies in the discipline. Look no further than his canonical “Style as Evidence” (1980) or “Mind in Matter” (1982). What he offers here will enter the historical record as a complement to these earlier pieces.
When I began graduate study of art history at Harvard University in 1951, American art resided at the bottom of the art historical hierarchy.
The inaugural Bully Pulpit considers a historical question with significant implications for contemporary art history: how have American art historians defined and reconceived their discipline during past moments of severe economic, political, and institutional crisis?
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