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Sarah Burns
Sarah Burns is Ruth N. Halls Professor Emerita, Department of Art History, at Indiana University.
Burns, Sarah
Burns, Sarah
United States of America
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Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America
Sarah Burns tells the story of artists in American society during a period of critical transition from Victorian to modern values, examining how culture shaped the artists and how artists shaped their culture. Focusing on such important painters as James McNeill Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Cecilia Beaux, Winslow Homer, and Albert Pinkham Ryder, she investigates how artists reacted to the growing power of the media, to an expanding consumer society, to the need for a specifically American artist type, and to the problem of gender.

With the vigorous growth of the magazine industry, says Burns, information about art and artists was diffused to a larger audience than ever before. Burns examines how stories and features in magazines, newspapers, and books forged reputations, established canons, and made the artist an important figure in American culture. She demonstrates how artists learned to "package" themselves in the early advertising age to create a desire not only for their products but also for the trappings of their artistic life. Next Burns examines how European models of the overrefined aesthete were reworked into more wholesome American versions, while painting took on an increasingly therapeutic role. She investigates gender dilemmas of the period, revealing how women artists were marginalized as professionals, and how the close fit between contemporary business values and the image of Winslow Homer explains why he was so often celebrated as the ultra-masculine, all-American painter. Burns also analyzes a variety of other artist images, ranging from theatrical Bohemians to clean-cut, civic-minded young professionals and down-to-earth commercial draftsmen. Illustrated with portraits, photographs, cartoons of artists, and paintings, this book demonstrates how patterns of artistic identity emerging in the late nineteenth century set the stage for those that have dominated the history of twentieth-century art and image making in America.
Print publication date March 1999 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300078596
EISBN 9780300230000
Illustrations 130
Print Status in print