Many consider The 1893 Chicago’s World Fair as a day that paved the way out of traditional life into modernization. It was considered one of the first cases in history where communication technologies, marketing strategies, and urban planning all interplayed at once. The Ashcan School marked the beginning of when artists began looking past any social constraints in a stylistic manner. They were encouraged to do this by getting out of their comfort zone and venturing into urban areas in order to capture the diversity in neighborhoods that exist. Image Communicated by Innovations and Buildings Presented in 1983 Chicago’s World Fair
“The Chicago World’s Fair is best understood on performance terms as a grand theatre where a forthcoming century’s understandings of modernism, migration, and culture were rehearsed” (Doss, 2002, p. 19). The 1893 Chicago’s World Fair was held in honor of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America as well as a celebration of Chicago’s recovery from the Great Fire of 1871. It was intended to convey the social, political, and economic innovations of the city’s aristocrats who proposed in financial regain in a time period during an economic depression in the attempts to outdo Paris’s Universal Exposition (1889) in regards to profits and attendance figures. The 1893 Chicago’s World Fair attempted to pay tribute to how American culture has progressed over the years and the commitment to pave the way to an imminent developed century.
The dramatic growth of the country was communicated through billboards, photographs, cartoons, advertising, motions pictures, etc. It was divided into two sections that included a flashy ‘White City’ style of architecture that housed hundreds of industrial and artistic exhibit and ‘The Midway Plaisance’ of shops, entertainment, and on a mile long strip of cultural influenced displays. Its acres of exhibitions praised American materialism and a visual culture through a representation of modern economy and commercialism. How and Why Art Produced in Ashcan School Differs From Gilded Age / Changes in Culture Artists Were Reacting
Doss (2002) found the following:
The members of the Ashcan school, a loose group of artists including Henri, Glackens, Luks, Shinn, Sloan, and George Bellows were determined to rescue American art from the restrictive official ideology of The Gilded Age, especially its narrow emphasis on cultural refinement and it cautious and controlling assessment of American society (p. 35-36). Since the Jim Crow law was becoming surpassed and European immigration was common, The Ashcan Artists were able to detect and challenge the stereotypes that existed during the Gilded Age in which separated the superior from inferior classes, races, the ideology of womanhood, and the separated spheres of men and women. The group stood up for the worthiness of the working class life and immigrants by making them as subject matters that portrayed a more realistic view rather than the idea of an elitist. Even though their subjects were revolutionary, the style of their paintings demonstrated the Realism of both 17th centuries Spanish and Dutch Art and 19th-century French paintings. Prior to the modernity and indicative reactions to what the Ashcan school encountered, American impressionism was based on feminine and peaceful ideals.
“The Ashcan Artists tended to ignore or resist the evidence of modern America where technology and machines and the process of modernization increasingly dominated” (Doss, 2002, p. 51). They were able to overcome the original technique that typical New York painters applied by focusing purely on the energy and dynamism of the people. Henri inspired other painters to seek authenticity, a quality that is combined with the validity of one’s first impression and personal experience, as well as the current emphasis on the truth. Modernization carried an updated visual sense and the artists of Ashcan school and shaped viewers interest in unusual modes of identifying New York City. The Ashcan School rebelled against skillful, finished portraits by having the ability in restoring the outward appearances of individuals and instead celebrating the creative process. One way they were able to achieve through the 1905 Hester Street painting that celebrated the scampering streets of urban life, as it displayed immigrant shoppers, curious onlookers, casual strollers, and pushcart peddlers to represent citizens as of equal importance.
The purpose was to overlook the overcrowding, crime, and sheer poverty of the slums by creating a more colorful and lively place that represented hope in the future. “Yet she is also a type, both easily recognizable and representative to isolate and define the terms of race, ethnicity, and class as he considered the nation’s democratic character and identity” (Doss, 2002, p. 49). Another prime example they were able to depict this was in The 1907 Eva Green painting, which main purpose was to reject the derogatory depictions of American Americans. Robert Henri managed to achieve this by painting the African-American girl with dignity and respect by dressing her in a blue coat and tam-shanter cap. It reflected his personal democratic views of humanity and modern America, and this representation was intended to free the condescending attitude of superiority that typically accompanied non-Whites at the time.
The Relationship between Art and Culture
Art and culture’s essence is considered to be one of the most dynamic, participative, and social forms of human interaction. This is because it has the potential to provoke empathy, generate reflection, create a dialog, and foster advanced ideas and relationships that foster a liberated way of expressing, sharing, and shaping one’s values. It has helped society build capabilities when it comes to architecture, comprehend the beauty of imagination, and rehearse various ways of living and relating to each other. Culture has managed to survive through humans, families, and generations from paintings, sculptures, music, and poetry that are collected, handed down, and sold. These forms carry down the culture in which represent the meanings and values from a worldview perspective. Art enables a culture to make sense of the world as well as voice their dreams, fears, invite other societies to educate themselves and perceive themselves as individuals. Starting from cave drawings of our ancestors to the impressive masterpiece sculpture of David by Michelangelo’s, art always represented the present standing or moment of society as well as provides individuals with what modern civilization has built its foundation on.
Such artwork displays what society was facing during a time period and whether it was peaceful or conflicting. If one were to observe from such era, they would be able to recognize that the people dressed differently than they do now and what is appropriate to one culture, might not be to another. They were known to wear clothing that represented their role, class, and status in society. Michelangelo created the sculpture as David to represent the ideal male as heroic and displaying strength that was a physical characteristic traditionally valued. Michelangelo mixed ancient Greece and the biblical David and created the baring of his naked body constituted human form and bravery. People’s personalities, behaviors, and traditions are shaped by their culture and artists must know how to express this. “Its design and construction were recognized at the time as one of the greatest technical achievements of the 19th century and hailed as a bridge between art and engineering” (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations, 2015, p. 1).
The Statue of Liberty was created as a visual record that stands for the freedom that citizens share in America, which has shaped the culture of its people. The iron interior framework of complex contrition represents the future, with the extensive use of concrete for the base, a flexible curtain-wall type that supports the skin, and the use of electricity to light the torch. Artist’s feelings can become influenced by their surrounds, and their work gives audiences a glimpse of what they make of the world. Such art was intended to display the history of its people through the places and events that surround them. “The people of France gave the statue to the people of the United States over 100 years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution” (UNESCO, 2015, p. 1). Another role of the artist was to provide a visible form of the idea by making the artist convert their subconscious desire into a concept. It was designed to be sure to be attention-grabbing, convincing and tells a story that hits home and right into the hearts of viewers. Conclusion
The 1893 Chicago’s World Fair has contributed to the past and current conditions and emergence of technology and marketing, as well as the imagery of city life that is considered efficient to the present social and economic conditions of America. It painted a picture of the ideal city and land of the free that was done away from the poverty and pain and replaced with marble buildings, theaters, palaces of consumption, entertainment, and wonders. The Ashcan School were a success because they managed to shine a positive light during their era and ignoring the harsh realities such as urban poverty and immigration problems. They did this by simply capturing a transitional, unsettling period of American culture that was strike by confidence and uncertainty, excitement and apprehension.
Doss, E. (2002, April). Oxford History of Art: Twentieth-Century American Art. Cary, NC, USA: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from ebrary, 289 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations. (2015). Statue of liberty. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/307