Tyler Green is an historian, critic and author whose work examines the ways in which artists and their work have had an impact on national histories. Green is also the producer and host of The Modern Art Notes Podcast, the leading audio program about art.
Green’s most recent book is Carleton Watkins: Making the West American from University of California Press. It won the 2019 California Book Awards gold medal for contribution to publishing. It’s just out in paperback!
Watkins is available at better bookstores (well, the best bookstores tbh), and from Amazon, UC Press, Bookfinder and your local independent bookstore (via IndieBound).
Green’s forthcoming books include:
- Emerson’s Nature and the Artists, a new edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 Nature published along with essays that examine how Nature was informed by Emerson’s experiences of art and, in turn, how it informed American art well into the twentieth century. Emerson’s Nature will also examine how Emerson joined his Anglo-Saxon race theory to ideas about nature in ways that helped bake whiteness into the American landscape tradition. About 60 American artworks will be reproduced in-line with the text of Nature alongside mini-essays detailing how each may have been informed by Nature. Look for a publisher/publication announcement in January 2021;
- The Battle of Yosemite: The Civil War, Lincoln and the Invention of National Parks, the first new history of the national park idea since Hans Huth’s 1948 The Story of an Idea. The Battle of Yosemite will reveal artists and their essayist allies and the ways in which they responded to the Civil War as being at the heart of what has become known as the Yosemite Idea, and will foreground the importance of the California genocide to the parks idea; and
- a volume of Thomas Starr King’s collected writings (edited with John A. Buehrens).
Please use the menus above to discover other books in which my work has appeared, information on author appearances related to Watkins, images of over 450 artworks discussed in Watkins, and more. To learn why Green wrote Watkins, check out this essay on Medium!
Praise for Watkins
“[F]ascinating and indispensable… The lack of a Watkins biography was a gaping hole in our historical understanding of American art… Passages that analyze Watkins’ extraordinary compositions are among the book’s most revealing. ” — Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times.
“This book is a thoughtfully researched meditation on a photographer’s complex contribution to the formation of our national identity…. Green’s research is not just about Watkins, but about the significance of the American West, and in some ways the definition of America itself… [M]uch like Watkins’s work, Making the West American is at once technical and transcendent.” — Maika Pollack, Aperture.
“Marvellous… [Watkins] is all startling drama in both the life and art.” — Laura Cumming, The Observer (UK).
“This is highly effective scholarship that maps out art, politics and science.” — Stephen Clarke, The Art Newspaper.
“Beyond the dozens of sumptuous illustrations, what makes this biography worthwhile is Mr. Green’s prose and his dogged research… Mr. Green crisscrossed the United States in search of information about Watkins and has written what will likely endure as the definitive study of the artist.” — Andrew R. Graybill, Wall Street Journal.
“Green’s study of Watkins is full of drama… [he] builds a web of beauty and risk, of boom and bust, and of serenity and exploitation in and in between Watkins’ pictures. There are still plenty of shadows, but Green puts us in a better place to see into them.” — David D’Arcy, San Francisco Chronicle.
“[A] treasure of a book… the pictures are made to gain in stature not just in an artistic sense, but also in a larger societal one.” — Jörg M. Colberg, Conscientious.
“Carleton Watkins is less a portrait of a man than an explication of America’s relationship to the West in the mid nineteenth century… To this end, Green skillfully weaves a web of historical context around Watkins, placing him and his photographs as connectors to major cultural, political, and industrial changes, most especially the burgeoning conservation movement, the railroad industry and settlement of the West.” — Megan K. Friedel, Oregon Historical Quarterly.
“Wise and lucidly written.” — Deborah Solomon, author of “Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell,” and “American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell.”
“The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of the history of the West, but Tyler Green pierces that curtain of smoke in this innovative biography, recreating the life of photographer Carleton Watkins. Watkins emerges as a pivotal artist, a key player in the preservation of what is now Yosemite National Park, and a creator of the American environmental imagination.” — T.J. Stiles, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.”
“Green’s achievement here is monumental. This book takes the familiar narrative of the formation of the American West and brings an entirely new perspective to it, beautifully positioning Watkins’s work within the history of California, and indeed the nation.” — Corey Keller, Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“Green’s writing is lively and witty, peppered with dry humor and twenty-first-century colloquialisms, which make this nineteenth-century story feel vivid and fresh.” — Christine Hult-Lewis, coauthor of “Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs.”
“[T]he story of how Watkins came to photograph landscapes in California, Oregon, and Utah is both fascinating and prophetic… It is a book to be appreciated both textually and visually.” — Barry Silverstein, Foreword.