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Wyeth Lecture in American Art 2017: The Panorama and the Globe: Expanding the American Landscape in World War II

Cécile Whiting, University of California, Irvine. In this lecture, presented on October 25, 2017, speaker Cécile Whiting of the University of California, Irvine, analyzes the ways in which artists depicted landscapes joining the national and the international. Whiting's research focuses on how American artists recast the terms of landscape painting as it had been practiced in the 1930s, broadening its scope from the local to the international and from the pastoral to the antipastoral. During World War II, maps that pictured troops advancing and retreating across national borders, along with photographs and newsreels documenting death and destruction in locations around the world (including the naval base of Pearl Harbor, the tropical rain forests of Guadalcanal, and the beaches of North Africa), prompted a change in painted representations of landscape in the United States. In particular, the lecture examines paintings by Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, who adopted a panoramic mode, literally and metaphorically widening the horizontal scope of their paintings to encompass both the United States and Europe. As a counterpoint, Whiting discusses The Rock, the painting in which Peter Blume attempted to fit the globe into his landscape