American Encounters is a long-awaited dynamic new narrative of the history of American art that focuses on historical encounters among diverse cultures, upon broad structural transformations such as the rise of the middle classes and the emergence of consumer and mass culture, and on the fluid exchanges between “high” art and vernacular expression. The text emphasizes the intersections among cultures and populations, as well as the influences, borrowings, and appropriations that have enriched and vitalized our collective cultural heritage.
There was a readily perceived need for an up-to-date survey of American art that addressed the thematic, cultural, and historical concerns of the field in the 21st century. American Encounters offers a new narrative of American art organized around the theme of cross-cultural exchanges. It locates America at the cross-roads of cultural encounters between Asia, Africa, Europe, and the New World, for over five centuries. The authors do not treat traditions separately, rather they explore how peoples and cultures encounter and influence each other and then evolve based on an exchange of ideas, materials etc.