What's American About American Art?
John Updike's ruminations about American artists and their need to "confront the viewer with something vitally actual, beyond illusion."
THE SOURCE: “The Clarity of Things” by John Updike, in The New York Review of Books, June 26, 2008.
When it comes to mapping the visible world, American artists tend to stay faithful in some essential way to the concrete reality of the things they paint, says Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist John Updike. He sees defining examples of this American “bias toward the empirical” in the work of the Boston-born titans John Singleton Copley (1738–1815) and Winslow Homer (1836–1910).
Working in isolation from the European art world...