Art and the USA; from Ashcan to Grant Woods

Ref: C2227496

From George Bellows' Men of the Docks (1912) to the 1930s we explore the varieties of American art as the country became a world power, suffered economic hardship, developed distinctively American artistic subjects and styles. The Ashcan painters (including Bellows) depicted busy parks, boxing rings, leisure on Coney Island, using rapid paint strokes culled from their experiences as artist-reporters. From the 1920s Edward Hopper's images of the urban scene are more reflective - time stands still. Way beyond New York Charles Sheeler's precision, his geometry, represented the factories that powered urban wealth, Grant Wood a proud rural couple. While these examples focused on city and land, the course also explores Georgia O'Keefe's tightly focused, beautiful art, the Armory Show, Thomas Hart Benton's murals and new styles introduced by emigre artists. Our course is chronological and the final class explores the WPA innovative scheme that employed painters during the Depression.

Additional information about this course

No skills or experience needed. 28/10/2020 half term

Course aim

This course introduces students to the fascinating, diverse and often beautiful artwork produced in the United States from 1900 to the 1930s. I will encourage active learning through discussion on Zoom and also online on Canvas.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Recognise some paintings by American artists produced during the years 1900 to the 1930s.
  • Describe how and why American artists were able to develop distinctive subjects and styles.
  • Assess some of the cultural and economic circumstances in which art and artistic movements developed 1900-1930s.
  • Enjoy and talk about art produced in the United States.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Art and the USA; from Ashcan to Grant Woods


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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