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A History of American Tonalism,1880-1920

A History of American Tonalism,1880-1920

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The History of American Tonalism is the first definitive account of the Tonalist movement that galvanized America's artistic life in the decades around 1900. At over 500 pages and 400-plus color illustrations, the History offers both a chronological narrative and contextual re-evaluation of this long neglected--and crucial missing-link in American art. Through the splendor of the intimate and spirit-filled Tonalist landscape, the reader will be treated to a voyage of discovery, revealing America's turn-of-the-century culture as never before. In the works of George Inness, Whistler, John Twachtman, and over sixty of America's finest artists, in concert with the voices of Emerson, Thoreau, John Burroughs, William James and the finest critics of the period, the spiritual roots of Theodore Roosevelt's reformist era is vividly brought alive. The History of American Tonalism will serve as the indispensable reference resource for art of the period, including path breaking scholarship on over sixty major artists. In addition to Inness, Whistler, La Farge, Wyant, J. Francis Murphy and the better known Tonalists, over sixty lesser known but highly talented artists will be fleshed out for the first time, including biographical information and color reproductions to elucidate their chronological and stylistic development--a gold mine for art lovers of every stripe.

Based on cutting edge scholarship and over 400 color images--most never reproduced before, the history tells the fascinating story of how the progressive Tonalist landscape first dethroned the Hudson River School in the late 1870s and then went on to become the dominant school in American art until the First World War. The History of American Tonalism includes important new material on a wide range of subjects: the early and intimate works of John La Farge at Newport in the 1860s; the profound influence of Whistler and Inness on American art in the 1880s; the crucial role of the Society of American Artists in forging, developing, and sustaining an innovative and progressive art in the 1880s and 1890s; the radical impetus provided by the Munich and French trained American expatriates--especially those from the American art colonies in Brittany; the democratization of American art in the development of affordable Tonalist watercolors, pastels, and etchings; the modernist dynamic within the Tonalist movement that saw the decorative landscapes of Aesthetic Tonalism of the 1880s and 1890s give way to Expressive Tonalism after 1900--in turn laying the groundwork for the modernist artists in the Stieglitz Circle, and subsequently Milton Avery, the Abstract Expressionism of Rothko, Gottlieb, and Newman, and post-modern Tonalists like Wolf Kahn. The History will change our standard notions about American art history with a new paradigm that places the origins of American modernism in the late 1870s. Crucially, the History demonstrates how the Tonalist movement became the driving force in the development of a distinctly American art form: mystic, visionary, and nostalgic, yet essentially modern in its progressive dynamic of non-narrative abstraction--a fundamentally expressive and symbolic art that set its seal on American art then and now.