Thursday, 22 August 2013

More Landscape Research

I decided to collect on this page an eclectic bunch of landscape art that I've found and liked during my studies. First there is the category of land art where an artist makes a change in the environment and then records it with a photograph. I particularly like this photograph by Gabriel Orozco in which the artist has used bits of wood and junk which was lying around in the environment to create an echo of the urban landscape behind it. This is like making a drawing of the landscape using random 'stuff' which comes from the environment. Here he has put 'land art' which is usually more associated with natural materials into a more urban setting.

Going back to land art I do like some of the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I went to see an exhibition of his work many many years ago at the botanical gardens in Glasgow and loved it. Goldworthy's work is not macho and overbearing on the landscape like the major earthworks of American land artists of the late 1960's who significantly disturbed the natural environment to make a statement in their work (for example Michael Heizer's 'Double Negative' ). Instead, Goldsworthy's draws attention to the beauty of the landscape , the colours and the natural forms within it by arranging natural objects in a sculptural way. His pieces are often very transitory lasting long enough to be photographed before blowing away or melting. Some of his rock structures are more permanent. He has also made works on paper created by the melting of ice containing earth and peat. See examples of his work here , here and here

I'm going to step back now to more traditional works on paper and canvas. I recently picked up a book when browsing it the bookshop at Tate Britain by Kurt Jackson. I was very much attracted by the vibrancy of his landscapes and his ability to capture light effects. Examples are here , here and here . He uses mixed media, often including collage in the foreground of his paintings even attaching objects with a sculptural quality  to them He also often includes scribbled text. His titles are evocative of the atmosphere and time of day in which the piece was painted. Take for example 'Back to Kardamili after 27 years away, searing heat, screaming cicadas, olive grove, July 2005' makes me really feel the artist's discomfort and sweat as he painted this.

Although better known for his portraiture and in particular his more erotic work, I found some reproductions of landscapes and townscapes by Egon Schiele online.

I have included some examples here because I was really attracted to them. I think because they are partially stylised and the artists signature style or 'voice' comes through despite the large difference in subject matter from his more famous pieces. I like the squashed up appearance of these Austrian houses and his use of colour (especially to motif of the washing lines). There art nouveau influence can be seen in the stylised reflections on the water. 

Edward Burra is another artist who interests me. I watched a video online of him being interviewed for the BBC (in 1973). He really gave the interviewer a hard time in giving very little away and really trying hard not to properly answer any of her questions. There was a twinkle in his eye suggesting mischief and a sense of humour as he deliberately gave one word responses to frustrate the interviewer. Despite having severe arthritis (his hands were very deformed by it) he was a prolific painter and spent time painting in Paris in the 1920s, Harlem i the 1930s. he experienced the Spanish Civil War and the Second World war. In his later years ,however, he took to painting landscapes of Britain in watercolours. The one time he is more forthcoming and almost animated in the interview is when he is talking about the landscape. He particularly liked the landscape of Northern Britain as it was 'less cosy' not as suburban (with' gnomes and carriage lamps') than the South. He talked about his love of the view unfolding on the arterial roads and also the fact that he liked the trucks. Here are some examples of his later work. Example 1 , Example 2 , Example 3Example 4. I particularly like example 3 'An English Scene' as its inclusion of traffic stops it from being timeless and makes it very much of now and really does give a sense of place in the British countryside as it is. Also there seems to be humour here as the title leads you to expect a picturesque 'chocolate box' landscape. Example 4 'Picking a Quarrel' may be a comment on the impact of man on the environment with the lurid coloured excavators digging up slag and the people  very dark and oily in colour.  In a special broadcast about this artist Andrew Graham-Dixon theorises that the later landscapes with their roads leading off towards the horizon and their hills resembling the reproductive organs and curves of women indicate a preoccupation with transformation, with the reverse of birth. That the artist was preoccupied with his likely impending death. We will never know whether this was true. The artist died in 1979 and he was a man who 'played his cards very close to his chest' as the title of the broadcast 'I never tell anybody anything' suggests.

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