John Ott’s forthcoming book Manufacturing the Modern Patron: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority in Victorian California was awarded a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant in the 2012 round of grant awards.
Since 2005, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art has supported the publication of books on American art through the Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant, administered by CAA.
Through the example of Central Pacific Railroad executives, Manufacturing the Modern Patron redirects attention from the usual art historical protagonists – artistic producers – and rewrites narratives of American art from the unfamiliar vantage of patrons and collectors.
The work demonstrates the benefits of taking art consumers seriously as active contributors to the cultural meanings of artwork. It explores the critical role of art patronage in the articulation of a new and distinctly modern elite class identity for newly ascendant corporate executives and financiers.
These economic elites also sought to legitimate trends in industrial capitalism, such as mechanization, incorporation, and proletarianization, through their consumption of a diverse array of elite culture, including regional landscapes, panoramic and stop-motion photography, history paintings of the California Gold Rush, the architecture of Stanford University, and the design of domestic galleries.
Manufacturing the Modern Patron is currently scheduled for publication in January 2014