American Art and National Identity

Downtown, the El

Fig 6. John Marin, 1870-1953
Downtown, the El, 1921,
etching, 6-7/8 x 8-7/8 inches
Brauer Museum of Art, Gift of the FRIENDS of Art, 94.15

By the turn of the century, however, the American city became a potent symbol of national power. If the wilderness landscape had served as the symbol of divine promise, the city was proof of Yankee productivity, America come of age, a dynamo of industrial achievement. John Marin's dynamic print of New York's elevated train (fig. 6) communicates the excitement that many Americans felt about the urban landscape with its towering heights and endless bustle, its hymns to technology and industry and the power of capitalism to transform the landscape into a modern metropolis.


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