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Contemporary Landscape Painting

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Contemporary Landscape Painting

History of Landscape Paintings Landscape backgrounds have appeared in paintings since the Middle Ages, but did not emerge as a specific genre until the beginning of the seventeenth century. Dutch painters were responsible for the development of very subtle realist techniques for capturing light and weather with paint. These paintings were frowned upon by the French Academy, who saw scenes simply copying nature as lacking imagination. Instead, they lauded the landscapes of artists such as Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin; they did not attempt to capture a true landscape, but rather to compositionally organize nature in order to produce an emotional response from the viewer. From the late 18th century through the 19th century, landscape paintings came to be linked with technical advances in painting, as the Impressionists in France and the naturalistic scenes of John Constable pushed the boundaries of the genre. By the beginning of the 19th century, the English artists held in highest esteem were landscapists, such as Constable and J.M.W. Turner. Ironically, though, they had difficulty selling their works in the art market, which still preferred history paintings and portraits. The tradition of contemporary landscape painting has been explored by artists such as Milton Avery, Peter Doig, David Hockney and Andrew Wyeth. Landscape Paintings Techniques Landscape paintings refer to the depiction of natural scenery, such as bodies of water, mountains, forests, and valleys. The sky is usually a main element, and weather often plays a key role in the overall total composition. A landscape painting can be created entirely from an artist’s imagination, or can be copied directly from nature. A landscapist can evoke mood with light and shadow, or they can carefully organize the details in a composition to create a sense of balance or disruption. Details, such as the placement of trees, people, or even clouds, can affect the overall mood of the composition. For instance, the Romantics would alter nature’s appearance in order to evoke a different emotional reaction from a viewer. “En plein air” is a French expression which means, “in the open air,” and refers to the act of painting out of doors. In the mid- 19th century, working outside in natural light became very important to the Barbizon School and Impressionist artists. This was made possible by the introduction of paint in tubes in the 1870’s, which allowed artists to more easily bring their painting supplies out of the studio. Before the use of paint tubes, artists had to make their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. Artists Known For Landscape Paintings There have been many groups of artists that have dedicated their careers to depicting nature in their art. Jean-Baptiste-Corot and the Barbizon School helped to establish a French landscape tradition in the 19th century. Theodore Rousseau is considered the most important member of the Barbizon School; he is known for his capacity to lend his trees a sense of vitality through the use of careful brushstrokes. The Hudson River School was a 19th century American art movement comprised of landscape painters who were influenced by romanticism. They depicted the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. They created monumental works that sought to capture the natural beauty of the landscape. Thomas Cole is considered the leader of the movement. John Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” (1829-34) is a famous oil landscape painting. Often considered his masterpiece, the rainbow is a symbol of hope after a storm. Constable often painted oil sketches outdoors, as he was very concerned with the elements of sky, light, and atmosphere. Another famous landscape painting is “Rain, Steam and Speed-The Great Western Railway” by J.M.W. Turner, which affords the viewer a magnificent impression of speed in the 19th century. Other famous landscapists include Caspar David Friedrich, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Edward Hopper, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Gustave Courbet, Eugene Delacroix, Thomas Gainsborough, Winslow Homer, Diego Rivera, and Frederic Edwin Church.
contemporary landscape painting 1

Contemporary Landscape Painting

Contemporary landscape painting sits in a very specific relation to history as well as to place, culture and identity. Landscape painting throughout the twentieth century became a marginalised practice in the context of twentieth century abstraction and certain narrow readings of modernism. However, it remained a vital resource and practice for artists, and some of the most memorable images from the period are landscapes such as Drysdale’s The Cricketers  , Brack’s Collins St 5pm, Nolan’s Ned Kelly series and Smart’s Cahill Expressway . Today’s practitioners of the craft range from the folk tradition of Sunday painters to highly acclaimed contemporary painters as diverse in their approaches as William Robinson (AUS), Philip Wolfhagen (AUS), Antonio Lopez Garcia (SPAIN)and Wayne Thiebaud (USA). Ranging from a high degree of urban realism (Lopez Garcia) to gothic-inspired forests and mountains (Robinson), Turner-esque studies of cloud forms (Wolfhagen), and stylised flattened forms that recall both mid century modernism and pop (Thiebaud) contemporary landscape painting is a vibrant plethora.
contemporary landscape painting 2

Contemporary Landscape Painting

Contemporary landscape painting sits in a very specific relation to history as well as to place, culture and identity. Landscape painting throughout the twentieth century became a marginalised practice in the context of twentieth century abstraction and certain narrow readings of modernism. However, it remained a vital resource and practice for artists, and some of the most memorable images from the period are landscapes such as Drysdale’s The Cricketers  , Brack’s Collins St 5pm, Nolan’s Ned Kelly series and Smart’s Cahill Expressway . Today’s practitioners of the craft range from the folk tradition of Sunday painters to highly acclaimed contemporary painters as diverse in their approaches as William Robinson (AUS), Philip Wolfhagen (AUS), Antonio Lopez Garcia (SPAIN)and Wayne Thiebaud (USA). Ranging from a high degree of urban realism (Lopez Garcia) to gothic-inspired forests and mountains (Robinson), Turner-esque studies of cloud forms (Wolfhagen), and stylised flattened forms that recall both mid century modernism and pop (Thiebaud) contemporary landscape painting is a vibrant plethora. Artist Statement: This body of work has a very simple premise. It grew out of my interest in looking at things in the world around me and making pictures. These works come not from an analysis, but from an encounter. The work is not a proposition but a set of objects. On the other hand you will encounter recurring themes – I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of urban and natural forms, and the ongoing attempts to reconcile our lives with our places. I feel very passionately about the particularities of the volumes of space that are uniquely Australian. And I am very grateful for the vast resource of paintings made across history upon which we can draw, and without which, these works could not exist.
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Alexandra Sassé, A Quiet Day in Northcote, 2016, oil on canvas, 65 x 85cm Alexandra Sassé, Abbotsford from Studley Park, 2016, oil on canvas, 65 x 85cm Private Collection Alexandra Sassé, Clifton Hill from Studley Park, 2017, oil on canvas, 76 x 97 cm Alexandra Sassé, Clear Day Camberwell, oil on canvas Alexandra Sassé, Hawthorn towards Richmond, oil on canvas, 85 x 65cm DescriptionArtist’s BioDescriptionContemporary landscape painting sits in a very specific relation to history as well as to place, culture and identity. Landscape painting throughout the twentieth century became a marginalised practice in the context of twentieth century abstraction and certain narrow readings of modernism. However, it remained a vital resource and practice for artists, and some of the most memorable images from the period are landscapes such as Drysdale’s The Cricketers  , Brack’s Collins St 5pm, Nolan’s Ned Kelly series and Smart’s Cahill Expressway . Today’s practitioners of the craft range from the folk tradition of Sunday painters to highly acclaimed contemporary painters as diverse in their approaches as William Robinson (AUS), Philip Wolfhagen (AUS), Antonio Lopez Garcia (SPAIN)and Wayne Thiebaud (USA). Ranging from a high degree of urban realism (Lopez Garcia) to gothic-inspired forests and mountains (Robinson), Turner-esque studies of cloud forms (Wolfhagen), and stylised flattened forms that recall both mid century modernism and pop (Thiebaud) contemporary landscape painting is a vibrant plethora. Artist Statement: This body of work has a very simple premise. It grew out of my interest in looking at things in the world around me and making pictures. These works come not from an analysis, but from an encounter. The work is not a proposition but a set of objects. On the other hand you will encounter recurring themes – I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of urban and natural forms, and the ongoing attempts to reconcile our lives with our places. I feel very passionately about the particularities of the volumes of space that are uniquely Australian. And I am very grateful for the vast resource of paintings made across history upon which we can draw, and without which, these works could not exist. Artist’s BioAlexandra Sassé is a painter based in Melbourne, Australia. She exhibits in national curated exhibitions and solo shows. She writes art criticism for Australian Trouble Mag, and UK The Jackdaw as well as on her blog. A short film about her work screened at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and the Lido Cinema in 2016. Sassé has been shortlisted for the Moran Prize twice and the National Portrait Award three times and Highly Commended in the Arc Yinnar Drawing Award. The Melbourne Cricket Club has six of her works on permanent display. Alexandra Sassé holds an MFA from Monash University and a PGDVA from the Victorian College of the Arts.

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