Americana and Primitive Americana

Americana refers to artifacts of the culture of the United States, the history and folklore resultant from its westward expansion. Examples of this culture include baseball, apple pie, Superman, the Diner, barbed wire, wagon trains, jazz, the music of Stephen Foster, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the music of Aaron Copland (notably his Fanfare for the Common Man), and rockabilly; and American art, such as that of Frederic Remington, Grant Wood, and Norman Rockwell, all based on American folk art. Still life paintings incorporate all type of historic artifacts, from stoneware jugs and crocks to decoys and tin lanterns.

Americana folk art continues the theme of American heritage by using traditional elements such as the American flag within a piece of work. Americana also associates with “olden” items, such as antique washing machines, antique tin signs, old crockery and pottery, handmade dolls, hand carved figures and hand made tools.

The term Americana is wide ranging and, when put into the context of an art category, will comprise many different images that reflect the charm and nostalgia of America’s past. As the term suggests, Americana reflects the history, traditions, folklore, artifacts and even the culture of the United States.
The quaint nostalgic charm of everyday household wares can easily find its way into Americana paintings.

Imagine a weathered Coca-Cola sign on an old garage from the 1940’s or 1950s, or a farm scene with a John Deere tractor. These are all Americana images. They depict a sense of yesterday, of comfort, of home and stability.

Possibly the most original form of Americana Art is traditional folk art. Paintings were executed by the hand of untrained artists who would paint a portrait or a view of the family farm for a meal and lodging. Decoy carvers did not produce their lures as works of art to be placed on the mantel, but as utilitarian hunting objects.

As the country grew, more formally trained artists emerged and lithograph prints appeared for sale to the general public. Currier and Ives is the most remembered of these artisans, releasing scenes from America depicting genres from farm life and historic events to river boats and winter sleighs. In modern times, Norman
Rockwell embellished the traditional charm of Americana Art as a master artist.
Americana Art is a recollection of our past. It depicts our unique history, sense of patriotism, the items used by our ancestors in their way of life, and the culture that has developed from popular imagery. It is a unique slice of the American experience.