LISA WHITNEY (American)

Lisa Whitney was a painter who lived in New Haven, Connecticut. This painting, somewhat in the manner of Rockwell Kent, depicts a small coastal village in Maine. Her art portrays an eastern United States version of American Scene painting or Regionalism. The Oxford Dictionary of Art defines Regionalism as: “Movement in American painting----part of the wider category of American Scene painting----in which artists concentrated on realistic depiction of scenes and types from the American Midwest and deep South. The movement flourished during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. The motivation of the Regionalists, like that of all American Scene painters, derived from a patriotic desire to establish a genuinely American art by the utilization of American subject-matter and the repudiation of innovative artistic styles. In addition, they were moved by a nostalgic desire to glorify, or at least to record, rural and small-town America as distinct from the new industrial urbanization, and it was from this that their widespread popularity drew its sustenance. Thomas Hart Benton was the vociferous mouthpiece of the group and prominent among them were Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and John Steuart Curry, with Charles Burchfield and Ben Shahn on the fringes. Hopper was more interested in showing the psychological aspects of loneliness and drabness that characterized some aspects of American life than in the grandiose melodramatic idealization of Benton. In the work of Burchfield there ran a streak of fantasy which was absent from the others; Ben Shahn was driven by the spirit of social protest.” Social Realism is another term we hear when referring to eastern United States art like or similar to the paintings by Lisa Whitney and others who painted in the Regionalist style. Usually, however, right or wrong, we tend to utilize the term Social Realism to define subject-matter of a more serious nature. In reality, though, Lisa Whitney’s work is American Scene painting, it is Regionalism, and it is Social Realism. Generally speaking and from a nation-wide standpoint, the same can be said about the work of many other American artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s, a period of outstanding achievement and creativity in the history of American art.

 

Exhibited

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, annual, 1934

Art Institute of Chicago, 1937

Corcoran Gallery, biennial, 1937

 

References

Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

Falk, Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago

Falk, Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Mallett, Index of Artists: International-Biographical