A sweeping look at the ways American artists have viewed themselves, their peers, and their painted worlds over two centuries
This striking book offers an unprecedented glimpse into two centuries of American art, tracing artistic tradition and innovation at the National Academy of Design from its 19th‑century origins to the present. Published by the American Federation of Arts and distributed by Yale University Press, For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design accompanies a major travelling exhibition of the same title. Beautifully-designed by Takaaki Matsumoto and featuring spectacular art photography by Google, the publication reproduces artists’ portraits side by side with their self‑selected works, illuminating the ways this group of American artists have viewed themselves and their painted worlds over the past two centuries.
Since 1825, the National Academy of Design—the nation’s oldest artist and architect honorary society—has required members to give an example of their work, and additionally, from 1839 to 1994, a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. The selection of artists showcased includes Frederic Edwin Church, Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Cecilia Beaux, Isabel Bishop, Andrew Wyeth, Charles White, George Tooker, Wayne Thiebaud, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, David Diao, Emma Amos, Jaune Quick‑to‑See Smith, and Peter Saul. Essays by a stellar roster of distinguished historians and art historians, curators, artists, and architects delve into single artworks or pairs of paintings, while others rethink some of the most enduring themes in American art, such as the development of the figurative tradition and the representation of landscape. In addition to texts from the exhibition’s curators, select contributors include Kenneth Haltman, H. Russell Pitman Professor of Art History at the University of Oklahoma; Patricia Hills, Professor Emerita of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University; Alexander Nemerov, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University; and Susan Rather, Professor of Art History at the University of Texas, Austin, and 2018 winner of the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Additionally, 17 current Academicians—visual artists and architects including Walter Chatham, Catherine Opie, and Fred Wilson—contribute personal responses to individual artworks.
About the Editors
Jeremiah William McCarthy is Associate Curator at the American Federation of Arts, New York.
Diana Thompson is Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the National Academy of Design, New York.