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New notable additions to AA/PG library in October

Aftermanysprings Balkan, Debra Bricker.  After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism & the Midwest. Des Moines, IA: Des Moines Art Center, 2009.

The decades after the stock market crash of 1929 were critical in the development of American art in the 20th century. These decades were marked by a debate within artistic circles between modernists who were influenced by the art being created in Europe and the artists who sought to revive traditional "American" art.  While the modernists populated the circles of Alfred Stieglietz and Marcel Duchamp in New York City, the more traditional Regionalists looked to Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood led by the critic Thomas Craven. Although these two trends are often seen as opposites, this book seeks to highlight correlations between the two by analyzing forms and themes of the artwork produced during this formative period.

Asim, Jabari.  What Obama Means…for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future.  New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009.

With the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, a new step was taken in the African American struggle to achieve civil rights and equality. This book places the election of Obama within a evolutionary political history of African American focusing on such figures as Martin Luther King Jr. and Shirley Chisholm and such oratory luminaries as Barbara Jordan. However, the author positions Obama within trends of popular culture such as entertainment and sports and looks at him in relation to other famous black Americans who broke boundaries and challenged traditions. As a cultural critic, Asim provides a look at the President both within the pantheon of African American leadership and as a development in continuing evolution of the black American experience.

Kraskin, Sandra, et al.  Rediscovering Slobodkina: A Pioneer of American Abstraction.  New York, NY: Hudson Hills, 2009.

Esphyr Slobodkina was born in 1908 in Chelyabinsk, Siberia and in 1928 traveled to New York City to study at the National Academy of Design.  In 1937 she was one of the founders of American Abstract Artists and became a pioneer of American abstract art. During the 1930s and 1940s she helped interpret European modernism for American artists and viewers and worked to achieve appreciation for abstract art in the United States. Slobodkina also did not limit herself to painting. She first illustrated children's books in a collage style and then went on to write and illustrate her own books, including Caps for Sale a perennial favorite of children over the year. She also designed buildings, murals, clothing, and textiles. Although she faded in importance with the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s (which she rejected) she has since been reestablished as an important pioneer of American Abstract Art.

Solomon, Burt.  FDR v. The Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy.  New York: Walker & Co., 2009.

During his first term, Franklin Roosevelt worked to enact his New Deal to help bring the United States out of the Great Depression. However, many of his initiatives were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. After winning a sizable majority in the next election, Roosevelt initiated a plan to enlarge the Supreme Court from nine justices to as many as fifteen. This book examines ensuing fight between the President and Congress including those from his own party. The author focuses both on the machinations of a popular president and the key figures that opposed him and ultimately succeeded in preventing a change in the make up of the court.—Doug Litts

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