ArtLex Art Dictionary

American Scene painting - A term used to describe scenes of typical American life painted c.1920-c.1942. Much of this work is also included within Regionalism and Social Realism, and played a big role in New Deal art. It was first applied to the paintings of Charles Burchfield (American, 1893-1967) in the mid-1920s. Born in the aftermath of World War I, American Scene painting developed partly as an outgrowth of the Ashcan school, and partly as a reaction to French modernism. This art movement came from interest in celebrating the democratic ideals of America by promoting subject-matter accessible to the masses. A related trend was the growth of interest in creating prints for mass distribution.

 

Examples:

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightMartin Lewis (American, 1881-1962), Boss of the Block, c. 1939, aquatint and etching, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

 

 

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967), People in the Sun, 1960, oil on canvas, 40 3/8 x 40 5/8 inches (102.6 x 103.5 cm), National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC. See Ashcan school.

 

 

Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975)

 

 

Grant Wood (American, 1892-1942). See American Gothic.

 

 

see thumbnail to rightCharles Burchfield (American, 1893-1967), Rainy Night, 1929-30, watercolor over pencil on paper, 30 x 42 inches (76.2 x 106.7 cm), San Diego Museum of Art, CA. The subject is a street scene in Buffalo, NY.

 

 

Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954), Negroes on Rockaway Beach, 1934, egg tempera on composition board, 30 x 40 inches, (76.2 x 101.6 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. See Fourteenth Street school and New Deal art.

 

 

see thumbnail to rightEdward Laning (American, 1906-1981), Third Avenue El at Fourteenth Street, 1931, tempera on gessoed Masonite, 20 x 30 inches, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, U of Minnesota.

 

 

see thumbnail to leftAllan Rohan Crite (American, 1910-), Beneath the Cross of St. Augustine, 1936, oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 36 inches, Howard University, Washington, DC. See African American art .

 

 

Allan Rohan Crite, Sunlight and Shadow, 1941, oil on wood, 64.20 x 99.10 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

 

 

 

 

Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917-2000), The Migration of the Negro: The Migrants Cast Their Ballots, 1940-41, silkscreen print, Newark Museum. See African American art.

 



Also see Fourteenth Street school and Harlem Renaissance.

 

 

 


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