Alexander Van Laer
American, 1857-1920

Alexander van Laer was inspired by George Inness’s notion of the “civilized landscape”—scenes where the signs of human habitation take the form of stone walls, untended orchards, and abandoned cart tracks. Drawing on the design inspiration of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, van Laer assembled his landscape elements, often using high horizons and low vantage points—not as narratives, but as formal arrangements of soft-edged color forms with a pronounced two-dimensional quality. These compositions comprised delicate surfaces of quick paint marks and interlacing patterns of tree forms, meadows, and highlights. Rendered with gestural and often expressive brushwork, van Laer’s poignant New England scenes evoke a nostalgia for an agricultural society in decline.

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