Seeing America – Theme: Work Exchange and Technology

Libbey Glass Company, Punch Bowl and stand with 23 cups, 1904, thick colorless glass, 54.6 x 60.6 x 60.6 cm, 134 pounds (Toledo Museum of Art)
This dazzling, prismatic, brilliant cut glass creates a universe of pattern and reflection.

American brilliance

Wayne Thiebaud, Ponds and Streams, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 182.9 x 152.4 cm (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, ©Wayne Thiebaud)
Can the commonplace working farmland of California's Sacramento River Valley be a place of of breathtaking beauty?

The landscape remade

Detail of terracotta exterior with "Chicago" windows at right, Louis Sullivan, Carson, Pirie, Scott Building, 1899 and 1903-04, Chicago (photo: Kevin Zolkiewicz, CC: BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Sullivan believed that “form must ever follow function” and designed this department store with that adage in mind.

An early skyscraper

Romare Bearden, Factory Workers, 1942, gouache and casein on brown Kraft paper mounted on board, 94.93 × 73.03 cm (Minneapolis Institute of Art)
During World War II, racism flourished the United States even as the war effort sought to bring people together.

Work, war, and racism

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Trade (Gifts for Trading Land with White People), 1992, oil paint and mixed media, collage, objects, canvas, 152.4 x 431.8 cm (Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia) © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Smith created this in 1992, responding to the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in North America.

Trade myths and native land

Nam June Paik, Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound, approx. 15 x 40 x 4' (Smithsonian American Art Museum) (© Nam June Paik Estate)
The “father of video art” argued that electronic communication, not transportation, unites the modern world.

Television nation

Old Penn Station
New York put growth ahead of all else, resulting in the loss of important historic buildings, like Penn Station.

A Landmark Decision

Russel Wright, made by Steubenville Pottery, Steubenville, OH, “American Modern” pitchers, 1939, earthenware
Pour a little out for the proletariat: the Robin Hood of earthenware pitchers brought modern design to the people.

The modern home