Public Event



            
Writer, Painter, Banker, Thief: The American Arts Colony in the Public Account

Catherine Prendergast
English
CAS Associate 2014-15

Writer, Painter, Banker, Thief: The American Arts Colony in the Public Account

 The Gilded Age saw the dawning of an American arts movement, one where second tier robber barons and their kin, benefitting from a period of unregulated speculation, channeled their largesse toward the creation of art in the woods. Yaddo in Saratoga Springs was but one of four arts colonies to be launched nearly simultaneously in the first decade of the twentieth century. The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Byrdcliffe Colony in Woodstock, and Carmel-by-the-Sea on the California coast would join it in a statistical dead heat. Each colony founder used income from stocks and bonds to escape the evils of industrialization: the stench, the noise, the poor. They cast themselves as writers and painters, but their neighbors—the local merchant, the small farmer, the struggling craftsman—saw only bankers and thieves. Much has been written about the provocative, romantic, and political art that has emerged from these colonies. But far less is known about the equally provocative, romantic, and political story of their founding, about the men and women who created them, and of this moment in American history when the corporation became the instrument of American art.