Americana: A Road Trip through Time
Americana is a loose genre, which still denotes a strong tradition of American folk art: the open highway, independence and the frontier, and the pursuit of the American dream. Shop our curators selection of Americana-inspired artworks, and discover the history and aesthetic of Americana!
Americana in Art: An American Aesthetic
In general, Americana is an artefactual term: an example of the appendage of the Latin suffix "i/ana" to a noun. It is an equivalent, in English, to the field of interest in the artefacts of Shakespeare's life, his works, and the material and historical circumstances surrounding them: "Shakespeareana."
While Americana could relate to an interest in anything America, in fact, it is typically associated with music and pictorial art, and attaches to a number of guiding myths: the open road, the frontier, or the American dream.
Americana as an art style took rise in art in the second half of the 20th century, amid urbanization and the hollowing out of rural communities. Similar to fine art, vintage art, and retro art, it is a style which is at least partially nostalgic and negatively defined: it points to something which is no longer available, is imagined to have once existed, or now needs to be defined against its resurgent opposite.
Famous artworks like Grant Wood's American Gothic, Jasper Johns famous Flag, and Edward Hopper's cinematic portraits of urban loneliness and intrigue set the stage for a variety of meditations on the meaning of American life. In art, these emerged against the backdrop of cities, deserts, small towns, and a specifically Southwestern aesthetic of arid climates, motels, gas stations, and color-distorted photography. Pop Art broke through in the 60's and 70's with a new vision: contemporary America as they saw it, a place of consumerist frenzy, inauthenticity, and reinvention.
Flags by Berlin-based artist Freddy Reitz work in the tradition of Johns to capture the meaning of American life through collage art. Photographic artworks by Stefanie Schneider and Sarah Johanna Eick capture well the aesthetic of Americana: abandoned small-town scenery on the one hand, and bright pastel declarations of freedom and independence on the other.