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Dance and American Art
A Long Embrace
Sharyn R. Udall


A beautifully illustrated, innovative look at the rich and rhythmic dialogue between the arts, illuminating American culture through portrayals of dance in visual culture.

From ballet to burlesque, from the frontier jig to the jitterbug, Americans have always loved watching dance, whether in grand ballrooms, on Mississippi riverboats, or in the streets. Dance and American Art is an innovative look at the elusive, evocative nature of dance and the American visual artists who captured it through their paintings, sculpture, photography, and prints from the early nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. The scores of artists discussed include many icons of American art: Winslow Homer, George Caleb Bingham, Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Edward Steichen, David Smith, and others.

As a subject for visual artists, dance has given new meaning to America’s perennial myths, cherished identities, and most powerful dreams. Their portrayals of dance and dancers, from the anonymous to the famous—Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, Josephine Baker, Martha Graham—have testified to the enduring importance of spatial organization, physical pattern, and rhythmic motion in creating aesthetic form.

Through extensive research, sparkling prose, and beautiful color reproductions, art historian Sharyn R. Udall draws attention to the ways that artists’ portrayals of dance have defined the visual character of the modern world and have embodied culturally specific ideas about order and meaning, about the human body, and about the diverse fusions that comprise American culture.

Portrait of author Sharyn R. UdallSharyn R. Udall is an art historian, author, and independent curator who has written, taught, and lectured widely on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art. She is the author of six previous books, as well as the editor of many catalogs and scholarly articles. Her scholarly interests include women in the visual arts, American modernism, and the creative connections among visual artists, performing artists, and writers. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Of Related Interest:
Before, Between, and Beyond
Three Decades of Dance Writing
Sally Banes
Edited and with an introduction by Andrea Harris
Forewords by Joan Acocella and Lynn Garafola

"Banes is one of the major dance critics and historians of our time. She explores a wide range of artistic and cultural issues–from experimental art to disco dancing to ballet dancing for elephants–in prose as engaging as it is erudite. Experiencing her mind, as many serious lovers of dance will agree, is a heady experience." —Deborah Jowitt, New York University, author of Time and the Dancing Image


Image is of women dancing in a Burlesque style

July 2012
LC: 2011042650 N
456 pp.   7  x  10   143 color illus.

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"By exploring the continual dialogue between art and dance, Udall not only probes dance’s own cultural meanings, she also casts new light on visual artists’ persistent reliance on dance to invent new forms, revitalize technique and style, and better understand the human body and movement."
—Andrea Harris, editor of Before, Between, and Beyond: Three Decades of Dance Writing

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