Iconoclasm in New York: Revolution to Reenactment
King George III will not stay on the ground. Ever since a crowd in New York City toppled his equestrian statue in 1776, burying some of the parts and melting the rest into bullets, the king has been riding back into American culture, raising his gilded head in visual representations and reappearing as fragments. In this book, Wendy Bellion asks why Americans destroyed the statue of George III--and why they keep bringing it back.
Locating the statue's destruction in a transatlantic space of radical protest and material violence--and tracing its resurrection through pictures and performances--Bellion advances a history of American art that looks beyond familiar narratives of paintings and polite spectators to encompass a riotous cast of public sculptures and liberty poles, impassioned crowds and street protests, performative smashings and yearning re-creations. Bellion argues that iconoclasm mobilized a central paradox of the national imaginary: it was at once a destructive phenomenon through which Americans enacted their independence and a creative phenomenon through which they continued to enact British cultural identities.
Persuasive and engaging, Iconoclasm in New York demonstrates how British monuments gave rise to an American creation story. This fascinating cultural history will captivate art historians, specialists in iconoclasm, and general readers interested in American history and New York City.
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
Wendy Bellion is Professor and Sewell C. Biggs Chair of American Art History at the University of Delaware. She is the author of the award-winning Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America.
--Jane Kamensky, author of A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley
"Wendy Bellion has one of the most powerful interpretive voices helping us see what the early United States imagined of itself and for itself. In her new book on the power of destructive acts, she looks closely at the art of destruction, showing us how King George III fell and rose (along with other emblems of monarchy and Great Britain) in a pattern that continues to this day. I'm looking forward to regularly reading, teaching, and thinking through Iconoclasm in New York."
--Karin Wulf, author of Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia
"Bellion investigates many other pockets of American culture in her exploration of iconoclasm and its fractured meanings. The extent of her research is breathtaking, and her agile wit and engaging style keep the reader striding through the text. Somehow her command of theoretical work from a variety of disciplines manages to burnish rather than deaden the text. Eleven color plates and fifty-one black and white illustrations also give the reader plenty of visual material to ponder."
--Benjamin L. Carp, Gotham Center for NY History