"The Locomotive as Engine Of Artistic Inspiration"
"... The train was at once a symbol of engineering acumen, a wonder of the age, and a sign of progress run amok. As Thoreau wrote, 'we do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.' Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America, and the Railway, 1830-1960, the timely exhibition now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, presents more than a century of ambiguous responses by artists to this intrusive phenomenon. ... The railroad barons financed artists to portray their businesses in a favorable light. Carleton Watkins, whose mammoth-plate views of the West are among the glories of American photography, was subsidized by Collis Huntington. The owner of the Central Pacific Railroad even arranged to shuttle Watkins and his cameras up and down the coast in a private train. The curators have also selected paintings by George Inness and Albert Bierstadt, who in the 1850s to 1870s were similarly commissioned to put railroads on canvas, provided the trains were small and moved through bucolic settings. ... " [More]
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