AMERICAN TRADITION IN PAINTING by John W. McCoubrey

AMERICAN TRADITION IN PAINTING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although Professor McCoubrey has an idec fixe and fits everyone to it like Procrustes' bed, the burden of his essay, as far as it goes (which isn't far), is palpable, to the point and, in its way, provocative. For simply put it is the professor's fancy that from Colonial New England onwards to 20th century New York there has evolved an art clearly and challengingly our own: Copley and Feke, Eakins and Homer, Sargent and Benton, whether they knew it or not, were dealing in interior landscapes, developing an indigenous imagination, an un-European and untutored exploration into awesome geography, social uprootedness and personal alienation, out of which has sprung the raw illumination and immediacy of Pollock and Kline, De Kooning and Gorky. Thus Americans have, on the whole, always been visionaries rather than technicians and this because, contrary to what everyone else may have been saying all these years, the reality of the American experience is spiritual not material. In fact, with Abstract Expressionism now triumphant, we can see that we have been the precursors of the current cultural phenomenon: the realization that traditional methodology is obsolete and that the artist today stands alone ""in a sea of space and of change""; he can no longer consciously control the chaos, he can only express it.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1963
ISBN: 0812235096
Publisher: Braziller