Surprising Facts About American Art

5 surprising fact about american art
Photo Credit: Victor Lozano on Unsplash

Whether you’re a new or seasoned art history buff, the American art scene is the gift that keeps on giving. You have several centuries worth of mysteries, eccentrics, pioneers, headlines, and art movements to comb through. To start, here are a few facts you never knew about the American art scene.

Who Really Posed for American Gothic?

Iowa-born artist, Grant Wood’s most famous piece was undoubtedly his 1930 work, American Gothic. The painting, which many believe were a real-life farmer and wife, was actually modeled by the artist’s sister and dentist. Wood originally wanted his mother to pose for the piece, but his sister was able to pose for much longer periods of time.

The Artist Who Was Abducted by Aliens

Budd Hopkins has earned is his own unique place in art history. He was the first and only American abstract expressionist painter to become a leading voice in the supernatural research community. The New York City native’s interest in UFOs spiked after reading the accounts of those claiming to have seen flying saucers or even aliens off boarding spacecrafts. And Hopkins himself also claimed to have seen a UFO flying in Cape Cod. He’s also credited with popularizing the idea of human experimentation aboard UFOs.

The Mystery of Pasaquan

Eddie Owens Martin, known to the art world as ‘St. EOM’, was a Georgia-born artist and performer who died in 1986, leaving behind a monumental work of art, his own home. Martin ran away from Georgia in his youth and lived in NYC for decades until he moved back to Georgia to pursue his Pasaquan project in the 1950’s. The idea for Pasaquan initially came to martin in a dream in the mid-1930s. After dreaming about Pasaquan on and off for the next two decades, the artist eventually found himself back in Georgia building the compound.

After Martin died in the late 1980’s, Pasaquan remained untouched and unseen for nearly three decades. After a major restoration effort, the 7-acre compound is now open for the public.

Martin is part of rich, eccentric, and complicated art history in Georgia. It’s spectrum runs the gamut of furniture, Atlanta’s art colonies, still lifes, breakthroughs in photography, and the quilts of Harriet Powers. 

These are just a tiny sampling of the mysteries that American art history has to offer. Want to learn about art mysteries from around the world? Start digging your rabbit hole with the video below!

More Noteworthy Mysteries in Art History

Here are several more mysteries that have left art historians scratching their heads:

  • The real identity of the Girl with the Pearl Earring
  • Was Michelangelo’s David originally holding a weapon?
  • Is Van Gogh’s Study By Candlelight a fake or not?
  • The case of the missing Degas Ballerina

Put on your art history sleuthing cap and get to work! And don’t forget to check back for even more art mysteries from the past.

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