Emerson’s Nature and the Artists

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Illustrated by classic American paintings and photographs, and accompanied with a prescient new appraisal, this stunning publication on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s seminal essay continues author Tyler Green’s examination into how artists have impacted America, its culture, intellectual life, and the idea of the American nation.

Widely considered to be the foundational text of the American landscape tradition, Emerson’s Nature urges Americans to value and immerse themselves in their country’s nature, and to to build a new, distinctly American culture from it.

Emerson’s Nature and the Artists book is a kind of concept album-as-book in which Green does many things at once, including:

● Arguing that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s landmark 1836 Nature, perhaps the most influential non-fiction book of America’s nineteenth century, was significantly informed – and motivated – by Emerson’s study of American art, and that Nature, in turn, enormously informed the next 100 years of American art.

● Examining how Emerson joined his whackadoodle Anglo-Saxon white race theory to his ideas about American nature in ways that baked whiteness into the American landscape tradition.

● Offering essays that examine the concurrent production of Nature and Thomas Cole’s great The Oxbow; and that suggests how American dadaists and precisionists made direct, often cheeky addresses of Emerson and Nature.

● Presenting about 70 artworks that Green argues were informed by Nature’s most important ideas. They’ll be offered in-line with the complete 15,000-word text of Nature, along with Green’s critical analysis.

Every artwork in the book has been made available by art museums and libraries with open-access policies. In Nature, Emerson defined “landscape” as a public commons, a definition that would inform, among many subsequent developments, including the Civil War-era invention of the national park at Yosemite. In using only works museums and libraries have made available under open access, Green underscores how such policies are an adaptation of Emerson’s anti-capitalist public commons idea to the digital sphere.

Emerson’s Nature and the Artists in the media
Sample page spreads