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Art History in the U.S.

The history of art in the U.S. originates with the works of indigenous peoples, often expressed in ritual items, utilitarian objects, and adornment pieces. When Europeans settled in the U.S., they borrowed heavily from European art influences, such as Romanticism and Neoclassical architecture. As people from other cultures arrived in the U.S., such as African American, Chicano, and Asian, they too brought their own traditional styles of artwork and architecture, contributed to the style of the time, or blended the two. Early U.S. art often consisted of portraiture (example: Henrietta Johnston) or folk art (such as Harriet Powers' quilts). By the early to mid-1800s, art collectives and movements, such as the Iroquois Realist School and the Hudson River School began to expand art and artistic styles in the U.S. Jackson Pollock

In the early 1900s, American art had developed its own artistic styles and influential movements in photography, the Harlem Renaissance, and American Realism, to name a few. The WPA Federal Art Project, a New Deal program of the 1930s and early 1940s, supported numerous artists and advanced art in the U.S. American art from the mid-1900s to the present expanded into Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Environmental art, and Postmodernism.

Click on the links below to learn about a few influential artists and architects, as well as additional information about art museums and colleges:


  • John Singer Sargent - John Singer Sargent was an American artist, best known for his portraits. Although he was an American by birth, he was born in Europe and spent much of his life there. He was a celebrated portraitist ... Continue Reading
  • Frederic Remington - Frederic Remington was an American painter, illustrator, and sculptor. He was known for his illustrations of the Spanish-American War, bronze sculptures, and his evocative depictions of the American W... Continue Reading
  • Beniamino Benvenuto Bufiano - Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano (1889-1970) was born in San-Fele, Italy, on October 14, 1889. At age three, Bufano's family brought him to New York and studied with private tutors at the "Art Students Leag... Continue Reading
  • <i>Crackers in Bed</i>
  • Newell Convers Wyeth - Newell Convers Wyeth was born in Needham, Massachusetts, on October 22, 1882. Wyeth studied under and was mentored by Howard Pyle¹, and is best known for his book illustrations of American adventure c... Continue Reading
  • Norman Rockwell - Norman Rockwell was a prolific 20th-century American illustrator. He is most famous for more than 40 years of illustrations rendered for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post magazine.... Continue Reading


    Grandma Moses
  • Edward Hopper - Edward Hopper, an American Realist painter whose highly individualistic works are a benchmark of American realism, epitomizes an art awareness that eerily depicts contemporary American life as charact... Continue Reading
  • Grandma Moses - Grandma Moses was an American folk painter who became internationally popular for her nostalgic documentation of rural life in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.... Continue Reading
  • Andrew Wyeth - Andrew Newell Wyeth is an American realist painter, one of the most famous of the 20th century. Owing to his popularity with the American public, he has been called the "Painter of the People." His mo... Continue Reading
  • <i>Jack in the Pulpit</i> ROOTS OF ABSTRACT & MODERN ART

  • Georgia O'Keeffe - Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was an American artist, widely regarded as one of the great modernist painters of the 20th century. O`Keeffe was a major figure in American art for more than 70 years. She is ch... Continue Reading
  • Louise Nevelson - Louise Nevelson is best known for her abstract-expressionist boxes grouped together to form a new creation. She used found objects and discarded everyday items. One of her works stands three stories h... Continue Reading
  • Jackson Pollock - Paul Jackson Pollock was an influential American artist, famous for painting with a drip technique, and is known as a leader in the abstract expressionism movement. He was noted for being the first Am... Continue Reading

    Edward Steichen
  • Alfred Stieglitz - More than any other American, Alfred Stieglitz compelled the recognition of photography as a fine art. The first art photographer in the United States, he has been called the "patron saint of straight... Continue Reading
  • Edward Steichen - Edward Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and curator of an art gallery and a museum.... Continue Reading
  • Fallingwater ARCHITECTS

  • Elmer H. Fisher - Elmer H. Fisher was Seattle’s foremost commercial architect in the few years surrounding The Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. His extensive Romanesque and Classical Revival building programs assert... Continue Reading
  • Frank Lloyd Wright - Without formal training in architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright nevertheless established himself as the most influential American architect of the 20th century. At an early stage in his career, he adopted... Continue Reading
  • Eero Saarinen - Eero Saarinen, a naturalized citizen of the United States, is probably best remembered for his cutting-edge design of an arched gateway to the American West, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The... Continue Reading
  • I.M. Pei - Ieoh Ming Pei has given the 20th century, and beyond, some of the world's most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms, including the spectacular Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame cantilevered over Lake ... Continue Reading
  • Maya Lin - Maya Lin is a Chinese-American artist and architect. She is best known for her work, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington, D.C.... Continue Reading

  • Samuel F.B. Morse - "Science and art are not opposed." - Samuel Morse.... Continue Reading
  • George Catlin - George Catlin was an artist, writer, historian, reporter, explorer, trailblazer, anthropologist, and geologist, crusader, businessman, opportunist and also is considered to be a pioneer in American et... Continue Reading

  • National Gallery of Art - The National Gallery of Art is an art museum owned and operated by the government of the United States. It consists of two buildings, the East Building and the West Building, connected by an undergrou... Continue Reading
  • Artists Village - The Artists Village is located on Second Street at Broadway, in the heart of historic downtown Santa Ana, California. The village extends from First Street to Fourth Street, and Bush Street to Birch, ... Continue Reading
  • Asheville Art Museum - Asheville Art Museum (AAM), located in the heart of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, was founded by area artists in 1948. It exhibits the region's artifacts and works from Black Mountain College. A... Continue Reading
  • Aspen Art Museum - Aspen Art Museum is housed in an historic brick building on the scenic Rio Grande Trail, a short walk from downtown, Aspen, Colorado. This small art museum lies in the first hydroelectric power plant ... Continue Reading
  • Brattleboro Museum and Art Center - Brattleboro Museum and Art Center is a non-collecting contemporary art museum located at 10 Vernon Street in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. It serves as a link to the world of art and as a community c... Continue Reading
  • Brunnier Art Museum - Located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, Brunnier Art Museum is the state's only accredited museum presenting a decorative arts collection. It was established in 1975, and is name... Continue Reading
  • Cincinnati Art Museum - Founded in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum is touted as one of the country's oldest visual arts institutions and the first general art museum west of the Alleghenies to be established in its own build... Continue Reading
  • Copper Village Museum and Art Center - Copper Village Museum and Art Center is located in the historic City Hall Cultural Center, in Anaconda, Montana.... Continue Reading
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art - The Corcoran Gallery of Art stands as a major center of American art, both historic and contemporary.Founded for the purpose of encouraging American genius, the Corcoran’s extensive collection include... Continue Reading
  • Delaware Art Museum - Delaware Art Museum, situated on the Kentmere Parkway in Wilmington, Delaware, offers a welcome refuge from the bustle of downtown activities. The facility is part of a nonprofit organization that aim... Continue Reading
  • Freer Gallery of Art - The Freer Gallery of Art is located on the south side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is the Smithsonian Institution's museum of east Asian art, including art from China, Japan, Korea, and... Continue Reading
  • Frye Art Museum - Although built 12 years after his death, the Frye Art Museum was Charles Frye’s gift to Seattle, Washington, and the world. The Frye Art Museum was built in 1952, to house the art collection of Frye a... Continue Reading
  • Henry Art Gallery - The Henry Art Gallery is located on the western edge of the University of Washington campus, at 15th Avenue NE and NE 41st Street, in Seattle, Washington.... Continue Reading
  • Indiana University Art Museum - Indiana University Art Museum is located on the campus of Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Completed in 1982, it was designed by the world-famous architecture firm I.M. Pei and Partners. The ... Continue Reading
  • J. Paul Getty Museum - The J. Paul Getty Villa Museum of Malibu, California, is situated on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, just off the San Diego Freeway. It is a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, initiated by J... Continue Reading
  • Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts - The Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts is situated in Duluth, Georgia. Managed by a non-profit organization named the Gwinnett Council for the Arts, the 14,000-square-foot center has 4,000 s... Continue Reading
  • Joslyn Art Museum - Founded in 1931, Joslyn Art Museum, a premier center for the visual arts, is located in Omaha, Nebraska.... Continue Reading
  • Museum of Modern Art - The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), founded in 1929 as an educational institution, is dedicated to acquiring the best modern works of art on the market. Located in a 630,000-square-foot facility in New Y... Continue Reading
  • Norman Rockwell Museum - Founded in 1976, Norman Rockwell Museum features the nationally recognized collection of Rockwell — a gifted illustrator. The collections, located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, are reminiscent of Roc... Continue Reading
  • Plattsburgh State Art Museum - Located on the campus of Plattsburgh State University, in Plattsburgh, New York, the museum serves as an open visual art resource for the university, and the Northern Adirondack and Champlain Valley r... Continue Reading
  • Seattle Art Museum - The Seattle Art Museum is a world-renowned institution where one can find masterpieces of great artists from all over the world.... Continue Reading
  • St. Louis Art Museum - Located at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri, the Saint Louis Art Museum is rated one of the nation's leading comprehensive art museums. Through presentation of high-quality exhibitions, it is dedica... Continue Reading
  • Swope Art Museum - Swope Art Museum is an Italian Renaissance-style building situated on South Seventh Street in downtown Terre Haute, Indiana. It aims at collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting the best of... Continue Reading

  • Art Center College of Design - The Art Center College of Design – located in Pasadena, California - is one of the leading graphic and industrial design colleges in the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide r... Continue Reading
  • California College of Arts - California College of the Arts was founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer at Oakland, California. It is the largest regionally accredited, independent school of art and design in the western United States... Continue Reading