Monday, August 20, 2012
Until the 26 of this month, you are still on time to see a major exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints—many rarely or never shown—of the American landscape. From the works by early artists of the Hudson River School through the mid-twentieth-century ones, before abstract expressionism changed the artistic dynamic.
Presented by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, "Nature in America: Taming the Landscape," comprises forty-four works on view, of which forty-two belong to the Art Center's permanent collection.
The exhibition is arranged throughout three galleries, as to offer a better perception to the visitors, of the different interpretations of the American landscape from the depiction of the largely wilderness, passing through more intimate scenes after the Civil War, and until the early-20th-century with works inspired by the art of European modernists.
The first part, entitled "The Young Nation and Expansion: Domesticating the Wild," includes among other renowned artists, the names of Aaron Draper Shattuck, Andrew Joseph Russell, Frank Jay Haynes, Jervis McEntee, Thomas Doughty, Thomas Cole, and William Henry Jackson.
Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, that is to say, a wilderness that is becoming more rare in Europe, is offered to the artists of the Hudson River School and to the early Western photographers.
Their paintings convey a sublime and romanticized landscape inspired by the dramatic American wilderness.
After this, the visitor is taken to "After the Civil War: Softening the Face of Nature," a period during which a considerable number of painters, printmakers, and photographers in the United States, started creating more atmospheric up-close and intimate depictions of nature, with growing emphasis on strong passages and veils of color.
American painters start following the style of artists such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Theodore Rousseau, depicting an informal and vibrant landscape. It is also during this time that artists embrace a new way of painting, brought by those working in Europe: En Plein Air
These paintings often show the influences of the French Impressionsists, exhibiting luminous and color-saturated palletes.
In this section, one can find the works of Abbott H. Thayer, Coswell Rubincam, Daniel Garber, Dwight William Tryon, Henry Wolf, George Inness, John Francis Murphy, and Milton Avery among others.
The exhibition ends with "The Progressive Era through the World Wars: Breaking Nature Apart."
In this part, one can perceive the depiction of masses, planes paterns and colours in the interpretation of the landscape. A style inspired by Matisse, Picasso and other European Modernists.
It's the first half of the twentieth century, a period of reformist politics and new ideas in the arts.
Among the artists included in this section, some from the Woodstock Art Colony, are the renowned names of Andrew Dasburg, Ansel Adams, Arthur Dove, Ernest Fiene, John Marin, Rosella Hartman, and William Zorach.
The exhibtion "Nature in America: Taming the Landscape" is sponsored by the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund and can be visited until August 26,2012 at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus.
Admission is free and open to the public. All galleries are wheelchair accessible.
The Art Inquirer consulted the Dutchess County Tourism website as a resource for this article