This course surveys the most important and interesting art produced in the United States (or by American artists living abroad) up through the 1950s. This period encompasses the history of both early and modern art in the U.S., from its first appearances to its rise to prominence and institutionalization. While tracking this history, the course examines art's relation to historical processes of modernization (industrialization, the development of transportation and communications, the spread of corporate organization in business, urbanization, technological development, the rise of mass media and mass markets, etc.) and to the economic polarization, social fragmentation, political conflict, and the cultural changes these developments entailed. In these circumstances, art is drawn simultaneously toward truth and fraud, realism and artifice, science and spirituality, commodification and ephemerality, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, individualism and collectivity, the past and the future, professionalization and popularity, celebrating modern life and criticizing it.