Great Artists of America Critical Essays

Lillian Freedgood


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Freedgood states that “behind every work of art there stands a being of flesh and blood” and that “surely the proper study of art is the artist.” Therefore, in compact form, she has presented the lives of the painters whom she deems great, from the beginnings of American art to the mid-1960’s. This collection of biographies records the early days of the artists’ struggles, frustrations, and defeats leading to their final acceptance, accomplishments, and triumphs. Selecting fifteen subjects to represent what is best in American art necessarily leaves out many dedicated and creative individuals. In her decisions regarding who to include in this text, Freedgood attempted to choose those artists who were the most representative of a particular period or who appeared to exert the most influence on the development of American painting.

Freedgood has an affinity for the artists about whom she has chosen to write. As an artist herself, she has excellent insight into the way in which the artistic mind thinks. Her descriptions of the artists’ life-styles and of the evolution of their art are well researched and presented factually with apparently little romanticism. The idio-syncrasies of these artists are looked upon as traits that are necessary in order to produce the type of work that is desired. For example, Mary Cassatt renounced her inheritance and moved to a different country, Thomas Eakins became a recluse, and Winslow Homer insisted that he...

(The entire section is 577 words.)