Circulation (center) and Experience (right), the third and fourth volumes, respectively, of the Terra Foundation Essays series, explore fundamental ideas and concepts shaping American art and visual culture over the last three centuries.

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Newest Terra Foundation Essays Releases Focus on Experience & Circulation

September 19, 2017

Paris, France—The Terra Foundation for American Art announced today the release of Experience, the fourth volume of the Terra Foundation Essays series, which explores fundamental ideas and concepts shaping American art and visual culture over the last three centuries.

Experience, edited by Alexander Nemerov, Department Chair & Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University, explores the possibility of immediacy: the idea that we can sense the past directly in an artifact. Emphasizing the sensibility of the interpreter, the techniques of art historical writing (its affinity with fiction, its powers of description), and relying on the emotional charge—the punctum—that certain representations can deliver, this volume delves into an ongoing life of sensuous experience in seven different American eras and objects.

“Alexander Nemerov conceived this volume as a response to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay ‘Experience.’” explained Francesca Rose, Terra Foundation Publications Program Director. “Emerson’s argument—that human beings cannot fasten onto life as lived, that it escapes us as it happens—provoked a key question: how much more unlikely would it then be that experience might make it into a work of art? We thought it was a rich, pertinent research framework in which to reconsider how we view and interact with art of the United States.”

In June, the foundation released the third volume of the series, Circulation. Edited by François Brunet, professor of American art and literature at Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, this volume aims to present a long-term history of circulations in and of American art—or art of the United States—shaped as it has been from its earliest period by constant intercourse with other political, economic, and cultural forces and situations both within and outside of North America.

In anticipation of the release of Circulation, the Terra Foundation, Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, and Université Paris Nanterre co-organized a two-day international event, on June 7 and 8, at Collège Franco-Britannique, in Paris. Entitled “No Representation without Circulation: An Alternative History of American Visual Culture,” these study days investigated the main argument of the book: that American art works and pictures have existed and produced meaning by moving. In particular, speakers considered how writing this history of continuous mobility becomes ever more relevant in the digital era. Audio recordings of the study days are available on the Terra Foundation website.

All volumes of the Terra Foundation Essays series, distributed by the University of Chicago Press, including Picturing and Scale (the first and second volumes in the series, respectively), are also available in e-book and iBook formats.

Terra Foundation for American Art

Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With financial resources of more than $350 million, an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, and an expansive grant program, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, supporting exhibitions, academic programs, publications, and research worldwide.