The Kiss (Lovers), oil and gold leaf on canvas, 1907–1908 Gustav Klimt (popular for its gilt)

The Gilded Age, circa 1870-1900, was a period of rapid economic and social growth characterized by the emergence of a wealthy middle class, excess and embellishment in architecture, art and fashion, fueled by mechanization, transportation, major inventions and the growth of cities. Under the surface however lay significant social tensions- corruption in politics, collusion in business and poverty among unskilled industrial workers, child labor and discrimination.The term “Gilded Age” comes from the satirical novel co-authored by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and published in 1873 (the process of gilding, applied a thin veneer of gold to a baser material such as pewter or tin to make the artifact appear more valuable, had recently been introduced). Twain likened it to an era of serious social problems masked by thin gold gilding.

Madame X 1894 John Singer Sargent

For the purposes of this blog, I chose to point out the visual arts of the era when American painters emerged: Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sergeant, Childe Hassam and others. Art of the romanticized West by Albert Bierstadt, Charles Remington  et al.

 

Are we in a new Gilded Age? Which artists, in any creative field, will become associated with this era?

Washington Square, NY Childe Hassam, 1895

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