Cover image for Framing America : a social history of American art
Framing America : a social history of American art
Pohl, Frances K. (Frances Kathryn), 1952-
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Physical Description:
560 pages : illustrations (some color), maps (some color) ; 28 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6512 .P59 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even if the ultimate outcome of the culture wars is still in some dispute, it is clear that revisiting art's "greatest hits," from America or anywhere else, is not sufficient for a basic understanding of art history. Framing America's focus is determinedly and liberatingly inclusive, showing how popular and vernacular arts have had just as great cultural and inspirational impact as the work of trained artists. Pohl, professor of art history at Pomona College, proves her case again and again with revealing juxtapositions and inspired close readings, from the objects plundered by Corts to those fabricated by Jeff Koons. Native art, folk art and "Outsider" art, as well as many previously neglected female artists and artists of color are present in Pohl's narrative, never as victims of special pleading but as essential components in a vibrant mosaic. An examination of depictions of the Old West introduces to great effect drawings of startling iconic simplicity done by some of the victors of the Battle of Little Big Horn; an account of the construction of the Statue of Liberty is viewed against the Haymarket riot and trials; the Tilted Arc controversy leads to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And if the section dealing with recent developments is somewhat more cautious than the rest, Pohl at least steers clear of millennial pronouncements. Written less as a series of static tableaux than as a set of provocations for discussion and exploration, this large, satisfying and beautifully produced volume, with 665 illustrations (half of them in color), will be of value not only to students and scholars, but to anyone interested in the contradictory forces at the heart of American life. (Oct. 28) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Eschewing the conventional genesis story of American art, one that locates its origins in the portrait work of anonymous colonial itinerants, Pohl (art history, Pomona Coll.; In the Eye of the Storm: An Art of Conscience 1930-1970) reaches further into history than previous surveys. In order to locate a more authentic foundation for American art, she investigates the cultural production resulting from interactions between Native Americans and several exploratory European groups. Also unprecedented is Pohl's exploration of crafts, utilitarian objects, and curiosities to further illuminate the development of society in America. She incorporates artists previously excluded, such as Japanese American internment camp inmates, whose art powerfully relates their experience. Her survey lucidly conveys the key concepts of each period and communicates the significance of seminal tracts like Clement Greenberg's 1939 essay Avant-Garde & Kitsch. A timeline concludes the book, providing a valuable chronological overview of both art and history, including formerly uncited yet significant historical events. With 665 illustrations (337 in color), this volume is recommended as the most up-to-date American art textbook available. It is essential for all academic and large public libraries. Savannah Schroll, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A work of art and its frame must complement each other in their presentation so as to reveal total depth of meaning, understanding, and enlightened satisfaction. Pohl (art history, Pomona College) has accomplished this in her chronologically organized and scholarly analysis based on the interrelationship of the historical, sociopolitical, philosophical aspects of the development of American Art over six centuries. This art was influenced originally by Native American culture and integrated by the English, Dutch, French, Spanish, and German colonizers of the northern continent of the Americas and later expanded by African American, Asian American, Latino, and other groups that form a national culture today. Accepting the major art forms (architecture, sculpture, painting), attention was given the minor arts (graphics, posters, photography, ceramics, textiles and needlework, furniture, decoration and its work, metalsmithing, landscaping, etc.), investigating the innovations and styles of the many artistic periods and "isms" while revealing the identity of a myriad of artists with whom we seldom acquaint ourselves. As Pohl finally asserts, "... the multiplicity of cultures will constitute the country's creative legacy." ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. R. R. Henry emeritus, Pine Manor College