Form and Content
In Great Artists of America, Lillian Freedgood presents in chronological order the biographies of fifteen American artists, fourteen men and one woman, who have made significant contributions to American art and who are related in character in their dedication to art and to the pursuit of their vision. These artists, unique in their personal battles to excel in their chosen field, epitomize the dedication of truly committed and creative individuals.
The book opens with an introduction by the author that briefly describes historical events in the United States during the early days of the country. This history, which begins with Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, discusses the evolution of painting by the earliest Americans and the beginnings of the various painting styles. This general preface is followed by fifteen chapters, each of which identifies an American artist by description, name, and birth and death dates, such as “The Yan-kee Individualist—Winslow Homer—18361910.” The descriptions serve as hints about the characters of these artists and to provide insight into the traits that defined each of them artistically. Each biography then outlines the life of the individual from birth to death, focusing on early life, entrance into the artistic community, ambition, defeats, and successes. Of particular emphasis within the chapters are discussions of the individuals’ motivations to paint and the processes through which they evolved. Freedgood uses a third-person narrative voice that provides factual information with little reconstructed conversation or embellishment.
Color reproductions of paintings by the artists are located in the middle of the book. The illustrations provide the artist’s name and the title and the current location of the painting, and mention is made of the source from which the reproduction originated. A recommended reading list for teenage readers interested in the subjects of the history of American art, the history of art, modern art, biographies of various artists, and art-related monographs, catalogs, periodicals, and magazines follows the final biography. A detailed index of artists, famous people, artistic works, and art schools completes the book.