What Is American Art History?

Art|Art History

American art history is a broad and varied topic. It includes a range of styles and media, from the early American colonial period to the present day. From traditional painting, sculpture, and printmaking to digital art forms such as photography, video, and mixed media, American art has been shaped by many different influences.

American art has been shaped by its environment and social context since its inception. During the colonial period, European settlers brought with them a variety of styles and techniques that would influence American art throughout its history. The landscape of the Americas provided inspiration for many works of art, while portraits captured the faces of the people that lived in the new world.

As America moved into its own distinct period of artistic expression in the 1800s, painters like Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt began to explore new themes in their works such as Romanticism and Impressionism. This era also saw an influx of African-American artists who used their work to express their unique experience living in a society that was largely hostile towards them.

The 20th century saw American art move into more abstract directions as artists like Jackson Pollock explored new methods for creating works of art. Styles such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art challenged conventions about what constituted “acceptable” artwork while also bridging gaps between high culture and popular culture.

Today, American art continues to explore new avenues while still maintaining a connection to its past. Contemporary artists are engaging with issues ranging from ecology to immigration in their work while also experimenting with various forms of media such as installation pieces or performance art.


American art history is an expansive field that encompasses many different styles and media from across centuries of artistic expression. Its roots lie in both European influences brought by settlers during the colonial period as well as unique perspectives from within America’s diverse population which continue to shape it today. With its ever-evolving nature, American art remains an important part of our cultural heritage that continues to be explored through various forms of creative expression.