Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority

1st Edition

John Ott

Routledge
Published October 26, 2016
Reference - 332 Pages
ISBN 9781138274778 - CAT# Y315410
Series: The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

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Summary

Through the example of Central Pacific Railroad executives, Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California redirects attention from the usual art historical protagonists - artistic producers - and rewrites narratives of American art from the unfamiliar vantage of patrons and collectors. Neither denouncing, nor lionizing, nor dismissing its subjects, it demonstrates the benefits of taking art consumers seriously as active contributors to the cultural meanings of artwork. It explores the critical role of art patronage in the articulation of a new and distinctly modern elite class identity for newly ascendant corporate executives and financiers. These economic elites also sought to legitimate trends in industrial capitalism, such as mechanization, incorporation, and proletarianization, through their consumption of a diverse array of elite culture, including regional landscapes, panoramic and stop-motion photography, history paintings of the California Gold Rush, the architecture of Stanford University, and the design of domestic galleries. This book addresses not only readers in the art history and visual and material cultures of the United States, but also scholars of patronage studies, American Studies, and the sociology of culture. It tells a story still relevant to this new Gilded Age of the early 21st century, in which wealthy collectors dramatically shape contemporary art markets and institutions.

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