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A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  62 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Most people outside of the art world view art as something that is foreign to their experiences and everyday lives. A People’s Art History of the United States places art history squarely in the rough–and–tumble of politics, social struggles, and the fight for justice from the colonial era through the present day.

Author and radical artist Nicolas Lampert combines historica
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by The New Press (first published August 28th 2012)
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Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Midway through the preface of this book, I realized that this was a book I needed in my life during my high school history classes. To talk about the United States without talking about resistance leaves out the very spirit of the American people. To talk about resistance without talking about art is a disservice to the transformative power of visual display. Lampert selects art from various time periods in a way that is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead to spark discussion and inspiration ...more
Mills College Library
701.03097 L237 2013
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great account of cooperation between artists and social movements. The book does a great job highlighting the difference between art that calls attention to a particular subject and art that provokes further action, both among lawmakers and the general public. It's the art history very much worth knowing.
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
This isn't really a history, but rather a string of case studies, and they might not all qualify as art, but rather as creative actions, but it's still fascinating and very inspiring. I learned a lot!
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Good concept. Too radical for me. Constant struggling protests. As a thirty-five dollar art history book, some of the black-and-white illustrations and photographs here need to appear in color.

Native American art introduces the first of twenty-nine discrete chapters. In 1933, President Roosevelt led government-funded public art that ran through 1943, from the depths of The Great Depression to early World War II, which provided work for many artists during that difficult period. The Works Project
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A People’s Art History of the United States is a series of illustrated essays about artists’ participation in social movements. I am sick the past few days and am finding the book surprisingly addictive; unlike most series of essays it is hard to put down. As a college art instructor I am already thinking about ways the book could apply to my classes. It will get art students engaged in history and provide numerous paths to think about how their work can be part of movements. It seems highly tea ...more
William Reichard
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
It's difficult not to think of Howard Zinn's groundbreaking "A People's History of the United States" when opening this book. This is part of a series of alternative history texts based on Zinn's model, and released by the same publisher. What I expected from the book, at the start, was the same kind of macro view that Zinn offers, a sense of the massive scope and alternative narratives that must be included when constructing a more accurate and inclusive history of this nation. What I found, ho ...more
William Crosby
Feb 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
The focus is on activists and political art, so if you are looking for an interpretation of U.S. art from a cultural and art techniques point of view, look elsewhere. Too many words, not enough art. And the art is primarily photographs and posters.

I also found the writing dogmatic. The historical accounts were laden with many value judgments (the word "unjust" was used often). I was hoping for more on the alternative (perhaps true) history and less on the judgmental attitude which was constant t
Stewart Tame
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book! There was quite a bit of this that was new to me. Even the bits that I knew about were covered in more depth than I'd previously encountered. I'd never even heard of Mine Okubo before. I'll have to see if I can find a copy of her book about life in the resettlement camps. The more recent events were more interesting to me, being from my time and all. I even recall reading about the flap over Gran Fury's "Kissing Doesn't Kill" ads back in the day. The final four chapters were, I t ...more
Caitlin Goldblatt
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This definitely glosses in certain places; however, Lampert generally provides a concise, earnestly-rendered history of not only objects and their usage throughout history, but of conflicting and parallel atmosphere(s) in various times and places. Excellent discussions of silencing that mostly, despite the aforementioned occasional glossing, rise to the tall order of serving completionist historical analyses.
Rachel Wexelbaum
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The history of people's art in the United States, according to Lampert, begins with wampum. Go with it and go from there. I learned a lot of things about American history that they never teach you in school--all from art. I was surprised that Facebook memes were not included in Lampert's definition of people's art in the United States, but American military performance art pieces were. Oh well. If you read up to the 1990s you will be fine.
Roberta Morris
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My wonderfully insightful son-in-law knew this was the perfect Christmas present for me. I nearly skipped out on their Christmas dinner, so caught up with this art history/American history book of incredible scope. This is both amazing social history and real appreciation for artworks and artists for all that they bring to the world, not merely messaging but astonishing beauty, humor and love.
David Melbie
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History fans
Recommended to David by: Library pick
Very nice. Art as activism. Expertly done by Nicolas Lampert.
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Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Light read, skips a lot.
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Aug 13, 2015
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