Research Point: Do your own research into the evolution of landscape painting from the eighteenth century to the present day.
During the 17th Century landscape painting was limited to being the background of portraits/religious or historic paintings, it wasn’t until the 18th Century that it became a genre in its own right. It became increasingly popular in the 18th Century but it wasn’t until the early 19th Century that we had two masters of the genre in the UK, John Constable and William Turner.
The Constable painting on the left and the Turner on the right at first look similar in style, very realistic and detailed. The Constable is a more of a story with the figures and horse in the foreground very clearly rendered, we can see they are working with the barge, there are other figures on the tow path and the canal winds right into the distance. The Turner also has figures but they blend in with the landscape and there is more aerial perspective as the greens gradually become greys/blues in the distance. Later Turners painting became more impressionistic and below is his watercolour The Blue Rigi painted in 1841.
I have seen this in an exhibition of Turners Water colours and sketchbooks, the photo below does not do the colours justice, I remember standing in front of this for a long time.l
It had an incredibly peaceful feel when you see it in a gallery, not only showing the scene but evoking the quiet and stillness of the lake in the mist of early sunrise.
Landscape painting moved forward considerably in the 19th Century with the emergence of the impressionist painters. Impressionists painted outside “on the spot”, therefore painting fast, due to time constraints, brush strokes left visible, looser in style. Colour theories, as we looked at earlier in the module, came into play and artists experimented with the effects in landscape work, the painting below by Claude Monet being an example, using the complimentary colours of orange and blue.
I found this interesting,… when I was looking at impressionists I saw the above Wheatfield with Crows 1890, by Van Gogh. So much movement the wheat seeming to be blowing in the wind the sky has a darkness to it and it feels like theres an impending storm.
I then found this Hockney painting….almost the same scene but this is still and the colours exaggerated. It feels sunny and quiet and warm.
Two paintings of the same thing, such a difference in feel and atmosphere.
Note particularly some of the ways in which modern and contemporary artists have chosen to interpret this genre.
Looking at more contemporary artists interpreting Landscape art, I am put in mind of two artists I admire. Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. They don’t so much portray landscape but use it to make art. This genre, land art, has some beautiful outcomes and resonate with me as I spend a lot of time outdoors walking. Below is a short slideshow of three pieces from each, the circles being Andy Goldsworthy the lines Richard Long. Photography must be a large part of these works due to their ephemeral nature. I would imagine that working on these would be akin to a meditation, being outside with nature, in the quiet and working with simple shapes. Geometric shapes, circles, straight lines do not appear in nature and maybe this is why they transfix the viewer and they stand out against a random natural background.
An artist that I looked at when doing Drawing 1 was Anthony Garrett. His paintings are explosive large canvases, paint splashed, dripped, slashed across them. He says of his own work that it is mainly concerned with the weather. Last year he was commissioned to paint four large canvases and mount them in steel structures, where they were painted. Deliberately being left to the elements to allow nature to have an effect on them too.
David Hockney‘s ipad paintings are a very contemporary approach to capturing landscapes. I first saw these at the exhibition “A Bigger Picture” at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2012. I was sceptical when I heard about them, but at the exhibition they had been printed in a very large format and were impressive when hung in the gallery. One of the main areas of these works that took my attention was the fact that there was nearly always a road or track or path leading you into the scene.
I have the catalogue from the exhibition with 51 drawings in the ipad section.
My intention is to get to grips with my ipad ap and work with it for some of this part of the course.
During my research I was also drawn to Laura Oldfield Ford. Her work is urban landscape, something entirely different to all of the above.
Her work is done in biro and acrylic and is politically motivated, making images of British urban areas. As well as being an artist she is a writer and published a Zine in the early 2000s. I am attracted to the biro drawing, a medium I have begun to dabble with and enjoy. The splashes of colour in her work on the one hand draw you to an area of the scene, but also direct you to the starkness of the area without colour somehow emphasising the bleakness of that area as with the image above.