Art, Folk of America

American folk art is an umbrella term for various types of artistic expressions created by amateurs and craftspeople unschooled in the stylistic trends of academic art. Once referred to as primitive, rustic, or naive, folk art is now more commonly considered nonacademic, self-taught, popular, or vernacular. Samplers framed needlework pictures used as references for common stitches and motifs are prized among collectors of colonial folk art. Letters, numbers, biblical passages, flora, fauna, and local scenery were favorite subjects. (Victoria & Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom/Bridgeman Art Library) Basic categories of folk art include portraits and pictures in oil, watercolor, and ink; various kinds of needlework; fraktur (a form of illustrated lettering); three-dimensional carvings and sculptures from wood and metal such as weathervanes, ship carvings, shop signs, and toys; painted furniture and other household items; and architectural decorations such as fireboards and cornices. Created by and for common people, folk art reflects the social, political, cultural, and economic life of ordinary Americans. Painting and Portraiture When European colonists arrived in North America, they brought with them the cultural and artistic traditions of their homelands. These traditions provided the basis for American folk art, which flourished all along the eastern seaboard from the seventeenth until the late-nineteenth century. The early colonists continued the stylistic traditions of their native lands, but they also embraced other traditions, adapted forms, colors, and materials, and introduced new designs, all of which contributed to a distinctive brand of folk art. Portraiture, the first and most important type of folk art, emerged in the seventeenth century in New England colonial towns. Many portrait artists, known as limners, adopted an itinerant lifestyle, traveling from city to city, painting portraits for a prosperous, middle-class clientele. The work of these painters exhibited familiarity with European artistic traditions, but they also set new standards. Two of the finest examples of early portraiture were commissioned in 1671 1674 by John Freake, a Boston attorney and merchant, and created by an artist whose name remains unknown. One of the portraits is of Freake himself, and the other is of his wife, Elizabeth, and their baby daughter, Mary. The portrait of Elizabeth and Mary reveals the influence of European Mannerism, an idealized mode of painting that emphasized ornamentation and exaggerated the proportions of the human figure. The painting also suggests the status of the client: success and material wealth are represented by Elizabeth’s clothing and jewelry. A painting of Pau de Wandelaer from 1730 by Pieter Vanderlyn shows another style of portraiture common in the eighteenth century. Vanderlyn’s attempt to accurately depict spatial relationships in the portrait, which gave it a three-dimensional quality, was a legacy of the High Renaissance. The artist also attempted to create a realistic likeness of the subject and to convey something of de Wandelaer’s personality through references to his life and home in the form of the Hudson River and a sloop, both of which appear in the background. The inclusion of personal references became a characteristic common to American portraiture. By the late eighteenth century, artists had begun to blend the two styles found in the Freake and de Wandelaer paintings and to reshape artistic traditions. Folk artists also depicted the land, cities, and their farms and houses in their work. Many early paintings were intended to serve as a decorative overmantel, a painted section of wall above a parlor fireplace. One of the first American landscapes and overmantels dating to the 1730s, depicted the Van Bergen homestead in Leeds, Greene County, New York. Besides its visual appeal, the painting details eighteenth-century farm life in the Hudson River Valley. A red-roofed farmhouse and lavishly dressed Mr. and Mrs. Marten Van Bergen stand at the center of the painting. On either side, four black slaves, two white servants, Native Americans, livestock, and pets engage in various activities amid the land, mill, hay barracks, and Catskill Mountains. Depictions of the sea and harbors full of boats were also popular subjects for folk paintings, reflecting the importance of shipping and commerce to the Atlantic economy. Heinrich Anton Muller Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean … Mapq8Far Seas Trading Company, American Folk Art Paintings 1600*1200 4 … Mapq8Villages Schoolhouse , American Folk Art Paintings Wallpaper 1600 … Mapq8

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