Corporate collections of fine art vary in size and quality in much the same way that museum collections vary. Guided by intellectual concerns, by personal and regional interest, and by intent, they gather, display, and circulate works of art that match a variety of criteria.
SBC Communications Inc. has for over a decade formed one of the finest corporate collections in the United States, nearly 1,000 works of American art of the twentieth century. From its inception, this collection has been designed to reflect the intellectual, cultural, and economic trends that have influenced artists working in the United States over the last one hundred years. Exhibited in part through the years, the collection now reaches the American public in this book.
Lavishly illustrated with 166 color plates, 72 black and white text illustrations, and some 400 other reproductions of works in the collection, American Images gathers thirteen original essays by a group of internationally celebrated scholars, critics, and curators. Locating the art in its proper cultural milieu, the essays provide a greater understand-ing of American art both for the general reader and the student of art history.
Beginning at the turn of the century, Betsy Fahlman, Matthew Baigell, Susan Larsen and William Agee investi-gate various aspects of American Modernism, the early groping toward independence from European models by the nation’s artists. The essayists examine this unique idiom in all its diversity, focusing on the group known as The Eight and the burgeoning Modernism of the New York art scene, treating Regionalists such as Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, the tightly focused naturalism of Georgia O’Keeffe, and closing with the jazzy abstract cityscapes of Stuart Davis. Dore Ashton traces the development of the New York School and the ideology of the Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem deKooning at mid century, while Peter Plagens focuses on the influence of Abstract Expressionism on younger artists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Richard Diebenkorn. Irving Sandler and John Clarke carry the discussion into the Pop Art and Minimalist movements, concentrating on the didactic nature of their development in the beginning of the second half of the century.
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