Conceptual Landscapes: Envisioning the Modern World
Landscape, born from the Dutch word landschap, referred to images depicting scenery on land. Begun in the 1500s, landscape paintings were accepted into the art academies in the 17th and 18th centuries when painters infused their work with elements from classical antiquity. The result was the ideal landscape recalling Arcadia, an idyllic Greek utopia. With the birth and expansion of America, artists such as Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt used landscape to showcase the earthly riches within the unexplored territories and promote manifest destiny. As industrial revolutions swept through Europe and America, landscapes moved away from the picturesque and often pastoral scenes of the previous centuries. Instead, artists like Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Auguste Renoir played with light and composition as they painted scenes directly inspired from nature. At the same time, photography was moving into the foreground, revolutionizing the way artists interacted with space and color. As media evolved so too did the landscapes artists were documenting. The definition of landscape expanded to include urban, industrial, cultural, and architectural scenes. This exhibition aims to expose this expanded (and expanding) definition by addressing the conceptual landscape – a landscape created and interpreted by the artist, to be experienced by the viewer. Through different artists and media I hope to subvert and challenge the concept of “landscape” art and encourage viewers to re-imagine how they observe and interact with the world around them.