Art Discovers America (1943)
The Archives of American Art recently preserved the short film Art Discovers America," created by Alfredo Valente, with funding provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation. The film is a WWII-era documentary about what Valente calls a maturing National Art in the United States. It contains extensive staged footage of significant early 20th century artists at work, including Raphael Soyer, John Sloan, Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Marsh, and Abraham Walkowitz. Valente knew these artists - had photographed them and collected artwork by them - and the film could not have been made without their cooperation. The artists take pains to demonstrate their working methods for the camera, providing us with an intimate and authentic look at their practices. Unfortunately, the original film print contained irregular frames, causing distortion in the picture and soundtrack that could not be corrected during our film to film transfer. Still, the film is unique and well worth a look, and we are grateful for the support of the NFPF to be able to provide access and preserve this film.