Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity / Edition 1

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Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity is the first book to situate Philadelphia's greatest realist painter in relation to the historical discourse of cultural difference. Alan C. Braddock reveals that modern anthropological perceptions of "culture," attributed to Eakins by many art historians, did not become current until after the artist's death, in 1916. Braddock demonstrates that Eakins's realistic portrayals of Spanish street performers, African Americans, and southern European immigrants embodied a premodern worldview. Yet by exploring Eakins's struggle to visualize diversity amid the dislocating forces of his day—mass immigration, orientalism, tourism, commercial publishing, and the international circulation of ethnographic objects—this book illuminates American art on the threshold of the twentieth-century "culture concept" promulgated by Franz Boas and other modern anthropologists.

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Editorial Reviews

Art Newspaper - Akela Reason
“[Braddock’s] cogent considerations of the artist’s understanding of ‘the cultural concept’ provide a welcome corrective to anachronistic readings of the artist’s work.”
CAA Reviews
“[An] exceptional work of scholarship and interpretation.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520255203
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan C. Braddock is Assistant Professor of Art History, Temple University.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: “This Current Confusion”: Thomas Eakins before Cultures

1 “Amongst Strangers”: Studies in Character Abroad
2 “What Kind of People Are There”: Local Color, Cosmopolitanism, and the Limits of Realism
3 “To Learn Their Ways That I Might Paint Some”: Cowboys,
Indians, and Evolutionary Aesthetics

Coda: “Distinctly American Art”: Thomas Eakins, National Genius

Selected Bibliography
List of Illustrations


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