What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
George Inness’s fiery career of constant innovation and spiritualizing style of landscape placed him at the forefront of American modernism. Inness evolved from an early, classic Hudson River School style to a more personal style of intimate landscape art influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s formal principles of design and abstraction and by the spiritual writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Inness’s notion of the “civilized landscape”—abandoned farms and woodlots whose stone walls and cart tracks implied narrative without human presence—became the iconic imagery for a legion of followers. After 1880, his late synthetic landscapes were purely conceptual, made in a studio practice that relied on memory of actual places but was fundamentally an embodiment in paint of the artist’s deepest feelings. With these dematerialized landscapes, attuned to the Transcendentalists, Inness pioneered an essentially conceptualist art, one that would find echoes in the works of the Abstract Expressionists and Color Field painters of the 20th century.
American, 1825-1894, Newburgh, New York, based in New York and Montclair, New Jersey