The visual arts are a cornerstone of contemporary American culture in both the high art world and popular culture at large. Additionally, the work created by artists in America shapes and influences the art that is created around the rest of the globe. This influential position was not always in place, however. It has taken a considerable amount of time for art in America to gain the reputation which it now enjoys. The efforts of American artists went through many transformations in order to reach its current point of development.
Prior to the acknowledgment of the New York art scene around the 1950’s, Europe still maintained its reputation as the heartbeat of creative energy through out the world. America only first began to make a splash in history as it developed its own form of Romantic paintings at the start of America as a nation. These works took the form of huge, sweeping landscapes that were being inspired by the exploration of the western frontier. These works still inspire us today, personifying nature in a way that had rarely been seen before. Artists in America continued to work and develop styles that were based on the cutting edge developments in the arts that were taking place in France and Italy. Many artists such as Mary Cassatt were traveling back and forth between America and Europe in order to develop their own work.
The real victory for America in regard to art history came with the development of Abstract Expressionism. The work of artists such as Willem DeKooning, Clifford Still, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock were the first pieces Americans produced that the entire world considered to be ground breaking. This group of artists were working together in New York, slowly shifting the focus of the art world and laying the ground work for the New York art scene that is now so influential.