UNTIL ABOUT 1880, THE ACCEPTed epic subject of American painting was the Western frontier. By 1900 this had slid into nostalgia; it was no longer in synch with social reality. Most Americans lived in cities, and the myth of the West was just that: a myth, however durable. The real frontier was urban--a place of hitherto unimagined overcrowding, of cultural collision enforced by huge-scale immigration, of rapid change, where class ground against class like the imperfect rollers of a giant machine. Its epitome was New York City--Bagdad-on-the-Subway, as the writer O. Henry called it--a city in convulsive and continuous transition, bursting...
ART: THE EPIC OF THE CITY
AS THE CENTURY TURNED, THE ASHCAN PAINTERS CHRONICLED A NEW FRONTIER: THE URBAN SCENE
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