The Metropolitan Museum Of Art: The United …

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art: The United States Of America

The United States was born of European parents, and its culture reflects this rich heritage. But Americans have always been aware of the unique vision that led them to explore a new continent and establish a nation there. Historically, the "American experience" was seen largely as a political oneembodied by the institutions and outlook that distinguished the United States from her European forebears. More recently, however, Americans have become aware of the uniqueness of their artistic heritage, which, though it originated abroad, developed and flourished in ways far different from the arts of Europe. For several decades after the founding of the republic, many American painters and sculptors went abroad for their training, and even those who stayed at home copied European models as best they could. Similarly, American craftsmen at first designed furniture and other decorative objects according to what was fashionable in London or Paris. However, as the nation’s wealth and self-confidence grew, so did its trust in its own artistic inclinations, and in the twentieth century Americans began to sense that they could create a great art that was completely and uniquely their own. Largely as a result of its growing preeminence both politically and culturally, America has begun to look back into its own past, inquiring whether its artists and craftsmen, who long remained in Europe’s shadow, had not in fact created a distinct and distinguished art. This reexamination has led to countless rediscoveries of artists whose names were only dimly remembered and of craftsmen whose fine products were neglected as mere curiosities. Now, in museums and colleges, in galleries and auction rooms, we sense the excitement of discovery as a two-hundred-year-old artistic tradition is reevaluated and restored. s

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