Picturing America: Purposeful Art or Art for Art’s Sake

John James Audubon produced a monumental collection that provided habitat location and illustration of every species of bird native to North America. His classic work, Birds of America was published in four volumes between 1826 and 1838. It diverged from conventional scientific ornithological illustration in its presentation of birds as they appeared in their natural habitats. By contrast, James McNeill Whistler’s work, “Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room” was created at the beginning of what came to be known as America’s Gilded Age. The period began shortly after the horrific violence and destruction of the Civil War in the United States. The emphasis shifted to economic growth and the production of wealth. This is reflected in the artistic imagery of the period and expressed in the Whistler designed room once titled “Art and Money.” The very philosophy of art had changed. Art was created for “art’s sake.” Whistler’s room is an uninterrupted field of peacock blue, which went beyond the boundaries of a picture frame. Whistler’s and Audubon’s work will be examined by analyzing and interpreting individual ideas, values and beliefs. The presentation will encourage participants to discuss “art for art’s sake”, consumption and preservation in America.

Lectern, microphone, LCD projection system, screen, internet access