America is a country that was built by strong, independent proud people who
are unique and have demonstrated themselves to be leaders before followers. From
the settlement of the thirteen colonies to our fight for independence, America
has continued to pave her way through freedom, perseverance and creative
Following the devastation of the First World War, America, although victorious,
had returned to her corner and had invoked a form of Isolationism in an attempt
to keep from becoming involved in the affairs of the outside world. The American
people were tired and had grown somewhat somnolent.
The war years had taken their toll on our nation; and before she would totally
recover from her involvement in the European campaign she would be forced to
endure a severe economic instability, social disturbance and a drastic political
swing that had resulted from the Great Depression.
Millions of people would find themselves with out jobs and many would soon find
themselves homeless, hungry and just barely existing as they fought to survive.
This would become a great test of faith for the American people.
It would become difficult for the people of our nation to view their country as
they once had: strong, independent, prosperous and abundant with opportunity.
Instead, there would be bitterness, uncertainty and fear.
What Americans needed more than anything else was for someone to demonstrate
that despite the current reign of misfortune, the United States was and still is
the epitome of strength, patriotism and perseverance
As with any life-altering experience the situation may be viewed from several
very different perspectives. One can elect to observe the current trials and
tribulations through clouded eyes of self-pity; emphasizing on the hardships at
hand, or one can choose to peer through the haze of despair and find the port of
call that offers a haven for all during the most troubling of times.
During the 1930's one such group that set out to demonstrate that in misfortune,
can be found wealth, were the artists of the new movement known as the American
Scene Painters. Determined to break away from the European influence, these
American artists devoted themselves to creating a movement that would not only
allow for them to establish and maintain their own identities, but would also be
a " true" American art style.
Building upon the style and techniques of the Ashcan school, which consisted
largely of Robert Henri (1865-1929) and his circle of friends, American artists
combined the camps of Regionalism and Social Realism under the parasol of
American Scene Painting.
Both camps were interested in illustrating American life as it had been during
the depression era of the 1920's and 30's. Both groups desired to portray the
world in a natural, realistic atmosphere. However, this is where the
similarities would end.
The Regionalists, many of who lived and worked in the rural Midwest had chosen
to represent America in a more positive image. The political-oriented Social
Realists, not especially fond of the Regionalists conservatism, had decided to
reflect the world's image by illustrating the hardships and social problems that
permeated the people living in the American cities, most notably; New York.
As most artists subscribed to the ideology of their chosen school there were
several artists such as Edward Hopper (1882-1967) and Charles Burchfield
(1893-1967) who were considered to have " escaped being very closely associated
with both the Regionalist and Social Realists camps."
Regardless of which movements the respective artists had decided to follow, one
factor which remains as important today as it had back then is that the two
movements combined; offered a uniquely balanced portrait of the American
life-style during a time when our nation was undergoing yet another
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