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A book that follows the emergence of American art, its segregation into highbrow and lowbrow, its expansion to incorporate other forms of culture, and the moments in history that affected this dynamic.

Lena, Jennifer C.


Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts


    57,95 € / $65.75 / £51.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    Copyright year:
    To be published:
    September 2019
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    Aims and Scope

    An in-depth look at how democratic values have widened the American arts scene, even as it remains elite and cosmopolitan

    Two centuries ago, wealthy entrepreneurs founded the American cathedrals of culture—museums, theater companies, and symphony orchestras—to mirror European art. Today’s American arts scene however has widened to embrace multitudes: photography, design, comics, graffiti, jazz, and many forms of folk, vernacular, and popular culture. What led to this dramatic expansion? In Entitled, Jennifer Lena shows how organizational transformations in the American art world—amidst a shifting political, economic, technological, and social landscape—made such change possible.

    By chronicling the development of American art from its earliest days to the present, Lena demonstrates that while the American arts may be more open, they are still unequal. She examines key historical moments, such as the creation of the Museum of Primitive Art and the funneling of federal and state subsidies during the New Deal to support the production and display of culture. Charting the efforts to define American genres, styles, creators, and audiences, Lena looks at the ways democratic values helped legitimate folk, vernacular, and commercial art that was viewed as non-elite. Yet, even as art lovers have acquired tastes for more diverse culture, they carefully select and curate works that reflect their cosmopolitan, elite, and moral tastes.


    240 pages
    2 b/w illus.
    General/trade;Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

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    Jennifer C. Lena is associate professor of arts administration and sociology at Columbia University. She is author of Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music (Princeton). She lives in New York City. Twitter @WITWhat

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