In American Waters: The Sea in American Painting


Edited by Daniel Finamore and Austen Barron Bailly
With contributions by Austen Barron Bailly, Mindy N. Besaw, Sarah N. Chasse, Daniel Finamore, and George H. Schwartz

In American Waters highlights American art historical and cultural traditions associated with the sea, deepening our understanding of it as a symbol of American ambition, opportunity, and invention. The histories of American art have long privileged ways of imagining American culture that only tell a partial story and that overlook marine narratives of national and individual experience past and present. This ambitious volume reveals the sea as an expansive way to reflect on American culture and environment and to question what it means to be “in American waters.”

For more than two hundred years, American painters have been inspired to capture the beauty, violence, poetry, and transformative power of the sea in American life. Their images of the sea have also expressed ambitions beyond America’s borders in aesthetically and conceptually distinctive ways. The eight essays included here offer a more inclusive way of thinking about American marine painting by reconsidering national symbols and narratives, origin stories, coastlines, horizons, and ports, and by broadening the conversation to embrace perspectives on the Middle Passage, immigration, and Indigenous presence. Lavishly illustrated with more than 120 images, In American Waters features fascinating historical paintings alongside works by major modern and contemporary artists.

The publication accompanies the nationally touring exhibition In American Waters: The Sea in American Painting on view at the Peabody Essex Museum from May 29 to October 3, 2021, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, from November 6, 2021, to January 31, 2022.

Daniel Finamore is Associate Director–Exhibitions and The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, Peabody Essex Museum.

Austen Barron Bailly is Chief Curator, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

SKU #116675
11"h × 9 1/2”w
Peabody Essex Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the University of Arkansas Press, 2021

ISBN 9781682261705
232 pages with 120 illustrations

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