Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Thomas Pollock Anshutz: Art and the Everyman

 Moving from last week's 17th Century to a major leap into the 19th mid-Century on to the early 20th Century - an especially innovative time in art. Whether it was due to the advent of the camera or the change in the patronage system, this is the time when artist were working with loosening of strictures. There was less emphasis on small details and more "suggestions" of subjects.



This was the time of John Singer Sargent and Thomas Eakins. The latter being the teacher of a very gifted student. Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1852-1912) of Kentucky studied with Eakins and later would succeed Eakins as a teacher. 



Anshutz was a very prominent artist known especially for his portraits and genre scenes. He joined Eakins in the interest of the camera. In time, he would often work from photographs. 


There was a part of him that seemed to be interested in the "every man." This was proven when, as a student, he created, "The Ironworkers' Noontime." It was an indictment of industrialization. Then, after the end of the Civil War, he painted the circumstances of the African-Americans in his piece, "The Way They Live." and several portraits of "Aunt Hannah," an African-American domestic worker, 




Anshutz was never one to stand on his many laurels for his skill as an artist and a teacher. Instead, he kept experimenting. In the later stages of his life, he tried abstract painting. He never showed these works and there's no record of what might have happened. Yet, he is emblematic of one of the greatest eras in visual art. 



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