American Expressionism: Art and Social Change, 1920-1950

Abraham Dijkstra

Abrams, 2003

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

During the 1920s and '30s and until the end of World War II, a distinctly American form of Expressionism evolved. Most of the artists in this movement, children of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, African-Americans and other outsiders to American mainstream culture, grew up in the urban ghettoes of the East Coast or Chicago. Their art was sympathetic to the disposessed and reflected a deep concern with the lives of working people. Providing a look at this art - and the beginnings of a new movement, Abstract Expressionism, which followed it - cultural historian Bram Dijkstra offers insights into the roots of painting in modern America.

"The conventional story of American visual art generally pegs postwar Abstract Expressionism, in the hands of Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, etc., as the first truly mature manifestation of a national aesthetic, followed by Pop Art and minimalism as its glamorous and cerebral heirs. This polemical picture book seeks to overturn that history, finding in paintings of the pre-AbEx era a rich and undervalued tradition, and an antidote to a 20th-century art history that the author characterizes as fundamentally effete...This is a provocative, important book."
Publisher's Weekly