19th-century New York City was a visual experience, a spectacle for residents and visitors alike. New York’s entrepreneurs turned to woodcuts, aquatints, lithographs, and photographs to make sense of the booming metropolis and promote their own wares to a national—indeed, an international—market. They experimented with new mass-production techniques to provide an ever-increasing number of compelling visual and material forms in factories staffed largely with immigrants and women.

This symposium is being held upon the occasion of the Bard Graduate Center Focus Gallery exhibit, Visualizing 19th-Century New York, which explores the role of New York and other cities as models for new ways in which an exploding urban scene might be understood in visual terms. Distinguished scholars incorporating the perspectives of Art History, History, and American Studies will offer a comparative look at makers of 19th-century cultural commodities intended for the new and rising middle class audience and will recover the representations of the working people of New York in the wider range of available images of the city’s residents and its diverse neighborhoods that entered the panorama of urban life in the 19th century.

Speakers

  • Michael Clapper, Art and Art History, Franklin & Marshall College, “Art Entrepreneurs: Currier and Ives, Louis Prang, and John Rogers.”
  • Jonathan Prude, History, Emory University, “The ‘look’ of Lesser Sorts in 19th Century New York”
  • Panel Discussion: Chair, David Jaffee, Bard Graduate Center