For this research point we are asked to:

  • Look at the eerie, dream-like landscapes painted by the Surrealists.
  • Consider the work of some artists who have sought to express the more emotional and subjective aspects of landscape.
  • Look at landscape paintings by the german expressionists.

 

Surrealist painters did not just use the elements of landscape from nature, but also from the subconscious mind/the imagination.

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Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937 Salvador Dali

The swans on the lake become elephants in the reflection in the lake and the tree trunks the elephants legs.  The bends of the swans necks/elephants trunks are echoed in the branches of the trees. The lake is much richer in colour which seems to emphasise its stillness. The scene feels very dry despite there being water, I think this is achieved by the difference in the colour in the water as opposed to the rocks and desert behind.  I am not quite sure about the water’s edge the whole bottom half of the painting is at first glance,the lake, but logically it can’t be. This adds to the jarring effect of the painting.  The clouds are figure-like and yet the rocks seem very realistic.

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Forest and Dove, Max Ernst 1927

This painting by Max Ernst, was created using Frottage (rubbing) over objects to create the dark and forbidding forest.  Not being able to see the real painting I am left wondering if the Frottage areas are collaged over the top of the blue sky and it appears that there is an element of separation. The bird does appear trapped and frightened amongst the dark trees.  I don’t think we can get the full effect of a painting like this on the computer screen, to fully appreciate the textures you would need to be up close to the actual work.

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Totes Meer, Paul Nash 1940-41

The title means Dead Sea.  Apparently this was taken from photographs that the artist took at  a dump of wrecked aircraft at Cowley in Oxfordshire. The colours in between the wings and pieces of twisted metal are sea like, and the points evoke crests of waves. The whole sea is a symbol of the end of life the wrecked war planes seemingly crashing against a shore, bringing to mind add that could have gone before this point. The shape of the sea as a whole forming a triangular point which also alludes to a wing of a plane. The colours are muted, soft and cold as is the sky above the scene.

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Devastation, 1941 East End Street, Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland’s painting above is his reaction to the streets in the East End of London after the London Blitz. Very limited palette and large areas of black adding weight to the gloom of the scene and forcing us to focus on the devastated buildings. The building remains are painted in a sickly yellow/ochre which I feel adds to the grimness and highlights the sad areas, empty where once there were families,  as if spot lit.

There are a lot of different kind of marks over the painting as if the artist were searching for ways to express his feelings about he scene, these also serve to make us look around the picture.

Three landscape works above by Gustav Klimt.  I had only known this artist for his figurative work up to this point, they are highly decorative/decorated portraits, mainly of women.  Looking at his landscape work, I am struck by how much detail/colour there is, in fact so much that the landscapes actually be come a pattern themselves as in the picture top left of the tree trunks. Lots of spots of colour, almost pointillist in style.  The picture of the houses on the edge of the lake has lots of colour on each object, no flat one colour surface, the whole thing tied by a blue hue. The trees in the third picture completely dominate the building at the end of the drive.

Looking at these five artists brings the realisation that there are so many ways to interpret a landscape, other than in a literal sense.

 

References:

https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/surrealism/surrealist-landscapes

http://www.dalipaintings.com

http:/www.tate.org.uk

http://www.klimt.com/en/gallery/landscapes

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