The Non-imaginary United States

After reading Linda Nochlin’s essay “The Imaginary Orient” and learning about the divide in accepting these images as canon in global art history or ignoring them because they weren’t produced by “the great masters”, I can’t help but consider how American art is perceived around the world. Considered a melting pot of cultures and a dominant nation, the United States is unlike the Orient in that it’s made up of several people groups and is not only being recorded by one source and presented, as the Orient was being recorded and presented to Europe in very limited ways.

I think America has an advantage in this day and age as being a dominant culture and by the vast amount of technology available to many people that we will never encounter the problem of only being presented in one way. Even if there are conflicting viewpoints and interpretations and visual representations of our country and culture, the fact that there are many sources of representation already shows we are more fortunate than how the Orient was represented to Western Europe. As Nochlin says, “Works … are valuable and well worth investigating … because as visual imagery they anticipate and predict the qualities  of incipient mass culture”. What would our art anticipate and predict now? How does that play into our “mass culture” – especially as it concerns politics and race, two very important and controversial subjects that make the news frequently these days?

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