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Things of the Spirit

Art and Healing in the American Body Politic, 1929-1941

Series:

George Van Cleve Speer

In the 1930s, the crises brought about by the Depression, climatic devastation, and the rearmament of Europe led Americans from all walks of life to believe that capitalism and technology had synthesized into a monstrous force that threatened the human race. And yet, this chaotic decade also witnessed an unprecedented level of support, both rhetorical and institutional, for the importance of art in the lives of everyday Americans. This book investigates that paradox, asking why, when simple survival presented its own obstacles, our historically pragmatic culture began to define art as a necessity rather than a luxury. To answer this question, the book traces the symbolism of the embattled and recuperative body across a broad spectrum of American culture in the Machine Age. The book situates this symbolism within the commentary of artists, novelists, critics, and educators who trusted in the power of artistic expression and the experience of art to restore the health of the body politic.

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Index 225

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The Able McLaughlins (Wilson), 83–85, 95 "Abstract Painting Today" (Davis), 196, ! 197, 198 activism ! and aesthetic experience, 167 ! among artists, 44 ! artists' convictions regarding, 209 ! Davis's, 195–96 ! Davis's turn from, 184, 197, 202, 211 ! organized, end of, 209–10 advertising ! on behalf of advertising, 44–46, 50,51 ! prosthetic seeing through, 31 ! World Peaceways, 55 ! See also under Fortune aesthetic experience ! and activism, 167 ! importance of, 133 ! and social unity, 153 ! and socio–economic realities, 136 ! See also art aesthetics ! as active process, 135–37 ! importance of, 158 ! labor of, 134–35, 136 ! See also art Agee, James, 104–6 agriculture, 8 ! See also farm Alcott, Bronson, 71 alienation, 160 America ! redemptive promise of, 92 ! ugliness of, 137 America Hispana (Frank), 139–40 American Artists Congress, 153–58, 159, 172, 173, 176, 180, 211 American Artists Congress (Mangravite), 154 American Contemporary Art Gallery, ! 176 American District Steam Company, ! advertising by, 44 American Exodus, 104 American Gothic (Wood), 93 American Guide Series, 109 American Humor (Rourke), 75 America Today: A Book of 100 Prints, 154– ! 55, 173–75, 176 An American Exodus, 106–7 Anshutz, Thomas ! Ironworkers' Noontime, 5, 5–6, 7 anti–capitalism, 176 anti–fascism, 176 architecture ! Cheney on, 40 ! modernism in, 39 ! skyscraper, 39, 42–43, 46–47 Architecture and Modern Life (Wright ! and Brownell), 39, 181 art ! combating fascism with, 157 ! as communal enterprise, 92 ! conditioned by political and eco- nomic power, 172 ! Dewey on, 136–37 ! and economic conditions, 136 ! enjoyment of, 78 ! isolation...

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