GothamEd | Showroom Gotham: How New York City Became The International Art Capital

Gotham Center for New York City History

This article originally appeared on the GothamEd website.

During the Gilded Age, collectors and patrons made New York City the headquarters for art in the United States and the world. In this course, we will discuss the exploits of these tastemakers and the fruits of their endeavors as Gotham rose to international economic and cultural preeminence. Throughout the course we will focus on a transformative group of women collectors whose efforts ensured that the city’s prominence as both economic and artistic forces would be universally recognized. Join as we examine how a generation of ambitious civic leaders managed to establish New York City as a rival to the great art and culture capitals of Europe. We will question how a city like New York entered a burgeoning art market without a national model. Did the city follow long-established European patterns of patrimony, or did it strike out on its own? 

Students will learn about early collectors who helped establish New York’s bona fides; the major figures of the Gilded Age such as William Henry Vanderbilt and Henry Clay Frick who founded institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection; and the female luminaries of this era, among them Catharine Lorillard Wolfe and Louisine Havemeyer, who helped create the city’s cultural reputation. How and why did the business, cultural, and political interests of collectors and Gilded Age titans converge in New York? How did prominent female figures stand out in a time when their voices were often muted by their male counterparts? Join us for this fascinating exploration into the ascendancy of the metropolis. Read more...