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A People's Art History of the United States


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About the Author

Nicolas Lampert is a Milwaukee-based interdisciplinary artist and author whose work focuses on themes of social justice and ecology. His artwork is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum, among others. Collectively, he works with the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative. Lampert is a full-time faculty member (academic staff appointment) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


"This latest addition to the New Press's People's History series, with a preface by Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States), is both readable and instructive. Rather than writing a comprehensive history of social-justice-movement art, Lampert, an activist artist himself, focuses on 'examples that were complicated, where the decisions made by artists were controversial and confounding,' his premise being that 'analyzing histories that are deeply complicated helps us learn.' . . . The book is a useful and thought-provoking text for history and art students."
Publishers Weekly

"A much welcome, fresh view of American political art."
Paul Buhle, editor of A People's History of American Empire

"This is an important first volley in what I hope is an ongoing fusillade of people's art histories. There are many more stories to tell, here and abroad. Those relayed by Nicolas Lampert offer models for an art that actively engages in and helps change the course of history."
Lucy R. Lippard, author of Get the Message? A Decade of Art for Social Change

"This book is an excellent jumping-off point for anyone unfamiliar with the powerful social justice roots of American culture, offering wonderful examples illustrating historical points along the timeline of agitational American art. Lampert's credentials as an activist artist give him an insider's view of this important yet marginalized subject. It's an antidote to the conventional 'Art' model where form dominates content and artistic creativity is reduced to marketable commodities."
Lincoln Cushing, author of All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area

"By introducing the significant role that artists have played throughout the history of the United States, Nicolas Lampert offers readers the delight of returning to a familiar narrative and discovering a fascinating reinterpretation. This well-wrought interdisciplinary text demonstrates that artists do not merely respond to and record the events transpiring in their lifetimes; they also shape these events by applying the tools of their profession to accomplish clearly articulated political agendas."
Linda Weintraub, author of Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society

"Inspired by the revisionist social histories of Howard Zinn, Nicolas Lampert's A People's Art History of the United States is an inspiration in itself. Looking beyond an art world framed by museums and markets, Lampert surveys American activist cultures from the colonial era to the present. His passion for social change and his optimism about creative and constructive resistance come on strong in this well-written and wonderfully illustrated book. Highly recommended."
Erika Doss, professor of American studies, University of Notre Dame

"Historical amnesia is rampant in U.S. politics today, no less so in the visual arts, where the current wave of social practice art often suffers from a lack of awareness of what came before. This is an original piece of research, pointing us toward a vast territory of reconnection."
Suzanne Lacy, artist and writer, Otis College of Art and Design

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