New York City at the turn of the 19th and 20th century become a center of the American artistic world as well as an arena of tension between traditional and progressive conceptions in art. The aim of the paper is to present process of change of the structure of NYC field of art of that period. Presentation will be a result of the Fulbright Visiting Scholar research project “American Symbolic Revolution. Art and Society” that is currently caring out at the Columbia University in New York City.
Data will be presented according to Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the field and related to the nonformal artistic group called The Eight. Its members came to NYC around the year 1900 when field of art was dominated by conservative National Academy of Design (NAD). In 1907 The Eight’s leader departure from the NAD in protest against imposing artistic standards and canons, that is sometimes labeled as a revolution in the American art. The rebel was rather societal then aesthetic in its character, while group’s style of painting was not fresh. As a consequence of that rebellion, the NAD lost its position and new agents and agendas emerged in a field. However, art historians admit that a formal revolution took place in 1913 when on one hand field of art was almost restructured and on another hand the Armory Show International Exhibition of European and American Avant-garde works opened modernism epoch in the US. Besides the NAD there were many other players in the field of art, therefore a classification system consisting of several categories which will be used in a field description was built. These categories are: art education organizations, art societies and clubs, art galleries and museums, art exhibitions, artists themselves, press and art critics, art collectors and patrons, art dealers and the audience. There are also three additional categories including censorship, politics and law conditions that are situated outside the art world, but their certain impact on players practices is visible. In order to link all foregoing classes some of their main roles were distinguished. The most meaningful functions are therefore: art production, art evaluation, art exposition and art dealing, art collecting.
Graphical demonstration of the research results will reflect transformation of previously mentioned categories in the period 1900-1913.