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Art History Paintings in American History

March 4th, 2021

The history of the United States is a wild and crazy one. From the early fifteenth century onward people have been colonizing the continent of North America. People wanted to preserve the history that was being laid out before them. Some of them wrote books, and many others did great art history paintings to remember the past.

The subjects of many of the first paintings done were the colonists themselves. Before most Europeans even arrived, the Spanish had already begun settling Mexico, the southwest, and Florida. Many of the Spaniards had valiant portraits of themselves done, reflecting the conquistadors of their age.

The Spanish also painted many pictures of the natives in Mexico. Many paintings of the Mayans and Aztecs were done before the Spaniards started their conquest of Mexico. These paintings give us an idea about Aztec and Mayan life.

The French were the next to come into the Americas and they mainly started settling in the St. Lawrence River area of Canada. These people took up a lucrative fur trade with the native population. Pictures of trading posts and friendly relations with Indians were done frequently here.

When the British arrived in the Americas, there was not an influx of art like during the Spanish and French arrivals. The British were mainly concerned about setting up a dependent colony in the Americas. This was successfully done at Jamestown in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Painting did not start to pick up again in the Americas until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Once again, the subjects of most of these paintings were the native peoples that gathered and hunted on the land. Many of these paintings sold for high prices.

When the Indian population of the Americas started to deteriorate, famous painter Catlin went to capture pictures of Indians untouched by civilization. He wanted to show people what was happening to civilized Indians. Catlin traveled up the Missouri River and painted over one thousand paintings.

There are many criticisms to the paintings that Catlin did. Most of his critics were people that had been up the Missouri River. They claimed that nothing Catlin painted was even close to how it actually was. As a painter, Catlin painted what he wanted people to see. He would embellish scenes to make his paintings easier to sell.

Catlin tried to sell his enormous collection to the United States government. This goal was never achieved before he died. Catlin gave us paintings that offer a glimpse, however not a very accurate one, of the native populations before mass settling of the west started.

Many paintings of the era were focused on the new idea of Manifest Destiny, which is the idea that settlers

Robert J. Loescher – A Greater Art History Professor There Never Was!

February 4th, 2021

Robert J. Loescher was the director for art history, theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was the most stimulating and illuminating professor of Art History that I have ever known.

As a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I majored in Drawing & Painting I took a number of Art History courses under professor Loescher. His classes were always sought after and you had to get in line early in hopes to get in.

As a senior editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica it went without saying that you knew that you were dealing with a first rank scholar. However, what one never knows is how good is the professor at delivery and instruction? You can be the greatest authority on a topic but if you fumble around and grope over papers you are of little value to your students. This was certainly not the case with professor Loescher!

If there is one word that I could use to describe professor Loescher (and there are many) I would say that he was inspiring! He possessed the uncanny ability to take his vast knowledge and delivery it to you in such a way that it all made sense. Further, professor Loescher had a gift for keep his students spell-bound. He was always up beat and jovial, it was common for him to make witty side commentaries such at turning the Pantheon into a disco when teaching on that subject, or his famous “more is more” in his Baroque Art History classes.

In my last year at the school I was one credit short for graduation and he gladly made arrangements for me to take his East Asian Art course for 4 credits and in turn I did a special project for him and on the last day of class gave my presentation to the class, which was on Japanese Art. I had lived in Japan for two years and had much to offer the class with my drawings and slides. Being a man of vision professor Loescher grasped this when I approached him and was pleased to be of assistance in helping me and at the same time offer something more to his students. He always put the students first and for that I am grateful and will always remember him. Because of professor Robert J. Loescher I was able to graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago!

Stephen F. Condren – Artist