The beauty of the pastoral landscape lived in the aesthetic conscious of
America. Yet as the industrial revolution engaged more and more of the
country, a new aesthetic was necessary. The two forces in
conflict, agrarianism and industrialism, needed a new
representation and harmony in art. Artists were charged with
creating beautiful works of the technology sweeping the nation. At first
unsure of their ability to beautify the machine, artists turned to the
incorporation of the machine into the pastoral, melding the new
technology and the old ideas of style to create an industrial pastoral.
A chronological view of the Fortune covers involving landscape, as
pictured above, portray this slow evolution of aesthetic appeal.
Starting with the already familiar wedding of technology with the
landscape, the thresher sweeping through the wheat field is reminiscent of
George Inness' train commission. Still
the focus of the work, the pasture is laden with the golden wealth
harvested by the machine.
As the years progress, the covers start to displace the accent on
agrarian. Within the covers, the machine take a more central view.
Scenes of industrial activity replace the farmer in his field: the entire
plant as opposed
to the entire river. Beauty comes from the destruction of the
pastoral landscape, from the industrial logging. Next the
angle changes. The train takes the foreground of the image, as
opposed to the first train cover where it remains in the
background. The focus remains with the train moving through the
structured orchard, not with the farmer driving through the same orchard.
In the next cover, this distancing is furthered by the view from an airplane, displacing
the purpose of the land, and stressing the possibilities of the machine
offering the view. Observe the network of roads and
planned fields displayed in this cover, another change with industrialism.
In the final cover, the distancing of the farmer from the land becomes a
focus on the machine. The machine takes over the aestheticized
field, obscuring the agrarian focus from the country. Other covers from
the time period on display accentuate
this shift of focus. Instead of the pastoral, the part becomes central to
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|| The 1930s ||
American Studies at U.Va.
|| The University of Virginia