Some of the most famous and recongizable paintings have orginated from American. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic American paintings in history. Here is our list of the top 10…
George Washington – Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Stuart painted his incredible portrait of George Washington in 1796. Most American art lovers will have seen or heard about this painting as it’s incredibly recognizable amongst Americans. Stuart had longed to paint Washington for a long time before he finally got his opportunity. We expect this is due to the fact that during this time period Washington had become the first U.S president. And this was big news for the country! Of course, it was going down in history. So it’s not surprising that Stuart saw his opportunity to make some big dollars. And Stuart was becoming well-known for his remarkable talent, so Washington agreed.
Freedom From Want – Norman Rockwell
This painting is known around the world as a celebration of thanksgiving. In fact, it’s mostly referred to as ‘The Thanksgiving Picture’ instead of its original name. Rockwell used the notion of freedom to inspire his painting. He aimed to represent four different forms of freedom. It’s an extremely detailed painting of a family gathered around the table ready to tuck into their thanksgiving meal. He wanted this painting to symbolise freedom in four forms. These forms were freedom of speech, freedom from fear, freedom of worship and freedom from want. This painting is very famous for its incredible details and strong message. Take a look and see if you can work out which things represent each form of freedom!
Sugar Shack – Ernie Barnes
Ernie Barnes became famous for his painting ‘Sugar Shack’ however this painting didn’t become well-known straight after its release in 1970. The painting only rose to become famous after the sitcom ‘Good Times’ which aired in 1974. The producers decided to show this painting at the end of each episode. ”Good Times” had a huge audience because it was the first sitcom to represent African-American family a lot of people respected and tuned in. The exposure this sitcom gave to Barnes painting is undoubtedly the cause of its success. Barnes painting also represented black culture and aimed to create a rhymic feel through dance. Martin Gaye also decided he wanted ‘Sugar Shack’ to be his albums front cover which further gave it publicity. And the rest is history!
Dempsey and Firpo – George Bellows
This painting is a display of the fight between famous boxers Argentine Luis Firpo and American Jack Dempsey in 1923. This fight went down in American history because Dempsey defeated the Firpo who was the heavyweight champion of the world. Over 80,000 fans paid to see this fight live and it’s fair to say it was an incredibly intense and memorable fight. So when George Bellow created an oil canvas painting of it’s no wonder it was a huge success. With his spectacular talent as a painter and the historic winning for Dempsey. The painting depicts the iconic moment when Firpo strikes Dempsey out of the ring. He hits his head very extremely hard and fans thought it was over for him. But he got back up and took the championship! A very proud moment for American boxing fans.
Christina’s World – Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth created this painting in 1948. His inspiration behind the painting was his neighbour Anna Christina Olson. You can see a young girl in the painting who seems quite uncomfortable and distressed from her unusual positioning. At a closer look, it seems like she is stuck trying to move but frozen to the ground. Wyeth’s neighbour, Anna, developed a degenerative muscle condition at a young age and as a result, she could not walk. She was determined not to use a wheelchair and preferred to crawl to different locations using her arms to drag her. Wyeth found this fascinating and actually decided it showed great courage and determination. He wanted to do her justice and aimed to portray her state of mind and show will power and hope.
Nighthawks – Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper created this oil on canvas painting in 1942 which portrays the rare calm stillness of New York City. His aim was to contradict the seemingly sociable and populous buzz of the city with an image of loneliness. ‘Nighthawks’ manifests loneliness with a downtown diner with only a few people sat at the bar. There’s a light shining out on an empty and dark street which adds to the gloomy atmosphere. It became so popular for its representation that alienation is very present in modern urban life. And not everything is how it seems. Everyone in the painting seems to be lost in their own thoughts and there’s a sense of stillness and isolation depicted by the different shades of darkness.