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Nancy K. Anderson
Nancy K. Anderson is curator and head of American and British paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Anderson, Nancy K.
Anderson, Nancy K.
United States of America
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Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West
In a recent essay Wanda Corn noted that before achieving respectability late in the twentieth century, American art had long suffered as “the impoverished, unwanted stepchild of art history.” Wanda M. Corn, “Coming of Age: Historical...
Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West
A common theme of western American art—from the depictions of Indians by early explorers to the monumental landscapes of Albert Bierstadt to the vibrant images of Georgia O’Keeffe—is the transformation of the land through European-American exploration and resettlement. In this book, leading authorities look at western American art of the past three centuries, reevaluating it from the perspectives of history, art history, and American studies.

Jules David Prown begins the book by discussing the need for interdisciplinary approaches to broaden the study of western American art. Nancy K. Anderson then calls for a reconsideration of western art as art rather than documentation and for the adoption of new methods to probe its aesthetic, historical, political, and cultural complexities. William Cronon explores what an environmental historian might learn from American landscape art, concluding that each image must be read as a multilayered view intertwining past, present, and future within a larger context of progress and expansionism. Examining representations of American Indians, Brian W. Dippie finds that early works pictured them caught in a process of dramatic change while later artists showed them frozen outside of time: when the frontier ended, western art made nostalgia its defining characteristic. Martha A. Sandweiss argues that the ways in which views of the American west and its peoples reached nineteenth-century audiences—through large-edition prints, book illustrations, or theatrical exhibitions—significantly affected both the images and the meanings attached to them. Susan Prendergast Schoelwer challenges popular perceptions of the frontier as a womanless domain, discovering abundant pictures of Native American women in the art of the western fur trade. Howard R. Lamar concludes by discussing the changing perceptions of western artists and inhabitants of their region’s landscape in the twentieth century.
Print publication date May 1992 (out of print)
Print ISBN 9780300057225
EISBN 9780300234312
Illustrations 132 illus.
Print Status out of print