American Art in a Global Context

An International Symposium

September 28–30, 2006

Watch All Eight Videos of the Symposium

The field of American art has moved beyond the old paradigm of “what is American about American art?” It is looking anew at relationships, influences, and two-way exchanges with the rest of the world, both historic and contemporary. While lines of academic and modernist influence from Europe to the United States were traced in the field’s early days, Americanist art historians are now interested in wider encounters with diverse peoples. They are exploring many levels of culture and varieties of media as well as rapidly changing modes of international communication.

This symposium looked at American art in a global context—from circum-Atlantic migrations in the eighteenth century to European training and travel in the late nineteenth century; from the export of U.S. culture and media in the twentieth century to the impact of immigration and globalization on the nation’s visual arts in the new millennium.

The Terra Foundation for American Art supported this international dialogue in celebration of the museum's reopening July 1, 2006, after extensive renovations. The symposium highlighted the Foundation's five-year grant to the museum's distinguished fellowship program. The Terra Foundation is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. This symposium received federal support from the Smithsonian Latino Center as well as support for related events from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and the Goethe-Institut of Washington, D.C. 

Symposium Program

Thursday, September 28, 2006

11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Check-in
Entrance at 8th and G Streets NW

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Self-guided tours

2 p.m., Introductions

  • Elizabeth Broun, Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Elizabeth Glassman, Terra Foundation for American Art

2:15 to 4:30 p.m., Overviews: Looking for the Big Picture
Moderator: Wanda M. Corn, Stanford University

  • Angela Miller, Washington University, "The Global Turn in American Art"
  • Winfried Fluck, Freie Universität Berlin, "Narratives about American Art: A View from Abroad"
  • Chon Noriega, University of California, Los Angeles, "A Ver: Revisioning Art History"
  • Margo Machida, University of Connecticut, "The Global Within: Dialogism and Asian American Art"

4:30 p.m., Break

5 p.m., Keynote Address
Introduction: Ned Rifkin, Undersecretary for Art, Smithsonian Institution 
Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Santayana's Boomerang and Barr's Torpedo: On the Unity of American Art"

Friday, September 29, 2006

8 a.m., Coffee

9 to 10:30 a.m., Session I: Crossing the Seas
Moderator: Michael Hatt, Yale Center for British Art

  • Kevin Muller, San Francisco Art Institute, "Queen Anne and the 'Four Indian Kings': A Transatlantic Dialogue"
  • Jennifer Roberts, Harvard University, "Copley's Cargo"
  • Margaretta M. Lovell, University of California, Berkeley, "Trophy Heads: The Public Use of Portrait Painting in the Late Eighteenth Century"

10:30 a.m., Break

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Session II: Artistic Havens Abroad
Moderator: Renée Ater, University of Maryland

  • Barbara Groseclose, Ohio State University, "The Haven-Finding Art: Hawthorne, James, and Story in Italy"
  • Katherine Bourguignon, Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, "The Giverny Trick"
  • Kirstin L. Ellsworth, Pitzer College, "AFRI-COBRA: Global Art of Beauty and Blackness"

12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Luncheon & Fellows Reunion, International Spy Museum
Honoring the Smithsonian American Art Museum fellowship program's thirty-fifth anniversary and highlighting new Terra fellowships.

2:30 to 4 p.m., Session III: Modernism and Anti-Modernism
Moderator: Joann Moser, Smithsonian American Art Museum senior curator

  • Takashi Sasaki, Doshisha University, Kyoto, "Winslow Homer: Modernization and the Archetype in the Late Nineteenth Century"
  • David Peters Corbett, University of York, "'Food for Starving Souls: John Sloan, the Ashcan School, and Walter Sickert"
  • Luciano Cheles, Université de Poitiers, "Piero della Francesca's Impact on American Painting in the 1930s and '40s"

4 p.m., Break

4:30 to 6 p.m., Session IV: North American Crosscurrents
Moderator: Henry Estrada, Smithsonian Latino Center 

  • Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Blanton Museum of Art, "America/Americas: Placing U.S. Art in a Hemispheric Context"
  • Frances Pohl, Pomona College, "Revisiting the Relationship between Canadian and American Art and Culture"
  • Keith Morrison, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, "From Jamaica to New York: The Artist as a Citizen of the World"

6 to 8 p.m., Gala reception, Luce Foundation Center for American Art.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

8 a.m., Coffee

9 to 10:30 a.m., Session V: Photography as a Global Medium
Moderator: Anthony Lee, Mount Holyoke College

  • Nancy Mowll Mathews, Williams College Museum of Art, "American Moving Pictures in an International Context, 1890-1900"
  • François Brunet, Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot, "American Photography in France: A Brief History of Reception"
  • Rob Kroes, University of Amsterdam, "The Family of Man Revisited"

10:30 a.m., Break

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Session VI: Culture, Commerce, and Propaganda
Moderator: Laura Katzman, Randolph-Macon Woman's College

  • Sergio Cortesini, independent scholar, "Mussolini's Artists Across the American Scene"
  • Helen A. Harrison, Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, "Pollock in Europe/Europe in Pollock"
  • John Bowles, Indiana University, "African American Culture in Japan: A Transnational Dialogue"
  • Martha Bayles, The Weekly Standard, "The Ugly Americans: Losing the Global Culture War"

12:30 p.m., Discussion & summation

12:45 p.m., Concluding remarks by Wanda M. Corn, Stanford University

1 p.m., Conference closes

Contact Us

For symposium information, please email AmericanArtSymposium@si.edu or telephone Amelia Goerlitz at +1 (202) 633-8353. Faxes may be sent to +1 (202) 633-8372.

Credit

The Terra Foundation for American Art is supporting this international dialogue in celebration of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s opening on July 1, 2006, after extensive renovations. The symposium will also highlight the Foundation’s five-year grant to the museum’s distinguished fellowship program. The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. This symposium is also receiving federal support from the Smithsonian Latino Center as well as support for related events from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and the Goethe-Institut of Washington, D.C.