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Influence of Industrial Revolution on American Art

The industrial revolution took permanent hold in the United States around 1850 and its influence on American art is felt to the present day. But this influence was quite diffuse and ranged from direct responses to the changing nature of American society to the ability of new wealth to support styles of art that took little cognizance of anything as mundane as industry. In the second half of the nineteenth century America was transformed by its rise to immense power and wealth from a middling nation with limited influence to its twentieth-century position as a world leader. In domestic terms the growth of industry signaled the start of great waves of immigration that changed the ethnic makeup of the young country and it heightened the contrast between agrarian and urban economies that had been a source of conflict since the time of Jefferson. In international terms the brash new confidence of Americans covered some insecurity about their upstart status but also stood for the growing belief that America could now pursue what was best in Old World culture and adapt it to its own purposes.

The very limiting, self-conscious nationalism of the Jacksonian era had the tentative feel of a people unsure of what it meant to be Americans. But after the Civil War American identity was increasingly defined in relation to the country's seemingly unlimited potential for economic and territorial growth. The conflicts engendered by new conceptions of American identity (along with the new wealth) and produced an atmosphere in which "the arts rapidly became an aspect of the modernization which so many countries sought through nationalism and industrial growth" (Morgan 5).

From Colonial times a strong split existed between the interests of the agrarian South and those of the commercial, mercantile, and financial urban centers of the Northeast. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries this split gave rise to conflicting visions o...

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Influence of Industrial Revolution on American Art. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:57, May 28, 2020, from