Some of the earliest examples of American art are works produced by Native Americans, but with the arrival of Europeans, there were many different styles and influences that crept in. The Spanish, for example, influenced architecture.
On the East Coast, art was mainly that of European artists, and one of the earliest of these was the 16th century artist John White. Portrait painting was popular in the latter part of the 18th century, and the early part of the 19th century. Pottery from around this time was not fancy at all – it was designed to be practical. More ornate pieces were imported from Europe.
In the later part of the 18th century, there were two American artists who made a name for themselves on the London art scene. These were Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley. Those who chose not to go to other countries, stayed in America and developed their skills there. It was only in the early part of the 19th century that art schools began to appear. The Hudson River School, for example, started life in 1820, and was known for its production of Romantic landscape paintings.
Patriotic art is a major movement in American art, and history painting is something that you will see in art galleries all over the country. In the later part of the 19th century, more European art began to appear in America, thanks to the richer citizens who chose to import it. The result of this was that Americans became more familiar with the other styles of art, and after the Second World War, New York became one of the world’s top art centres.
Artists began to follow the art movements that were being seen in Europe such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. American artists are not as famous as their European counterparts, but they have made a valuable contribution to art history.