American scene painting is a style of painting that was common during the first half of the 20th century. Artists of the movement displayed landscape and typical life in America. American scene is a general term encompassing the urban ‘Social Realism’ and the rural ‘American Regionalism’. American scene painting does not refer to an organized movement in the real sense but rather to a practice by American artists to move away from abstraction and embrace the American style of art that is unique in its own way.
Social Realism is mainly political in content. It criticizes the society by bringing out the problems in society. Its impact was experienced in the first half of the 20th century. These works focus on the urban setting. Some of the prominent representatives of social realism are Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, William Gropper, Diego Rivera, among others.
American Regionalism focuses on the rural setting. They shunned the technological advances and the city life. American regionalism was more popular between 1930 and 1935. Some of the prominent representatives of American Regionalism are Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, Alexandre Hou, among others.
It is important to note that social realism and American Regionalism were efforts by American artists to maintain their identity by shunning European abstraction. The Social realism and American Regionalism together formed the American Scene painting movement.