Landscape is a major and important theme for artists there was a very wide range to research so much they I decided to hi- light and focus on just a few of the many artists that use landscape in their art. Landscape
has always been a favourite theme for artists since ancient times both in western and eastern artistic traditions. But until the seventeenth century landscape was not the focal point of a painting instead it was used as part of a backdrop. French artists Claude Lorrain( c.1600-1682) and Nicolas Poussin ( 1594-1665) helped to revolutionise this they both used landscape as an integral feature of their work. This new style of painting was highly romanticised largely concerned with capturing stylised views based on classical proportions with flowing clouds , sweeping pastoral idyllic scenes complete with a classical building glimpsed in the background. This early style of landscape painting became known as classical landscape. Dutch landscape painting also evolved around this time but Flemish artists were more concerned with depicting the scenes that they saw around them. Their work has a much more naturalistic quality. Jacob Van Ruisdael ( 1628/9 – 1682) painted large expansive and brooding landscapes .
Landscape painting continued to grow and thrive as a popular genre though out the eighteenth century.
during the nineteenth century notions around landscape painting changed moving away from purely classical ideals and interpretation instead artists began to focus on the mystical elements of landscape in a more personal way the English poets/ painters William Blake (1757-1827) and Samuel Palmer ( 1805-1881) produced visionary work filled with imagery. Also during this period also in England two important artists emerged that would change the perspective of landscape painting turning it into an important artistic genre. J.M.W Turner ( 1775-1851) was a prolific painter he was largely concerned with painting light and weather using his brush marks to capture mood and movement. He . Th extensively painting dramatic skies and seascapes. He filled sketchbooks with fluid watercolours of clouds, seas and skies. Many of these sketches have a loose almost abstract quality to them that were ahead of the time. Turner’s contemporary John Constable ( 1776- 1837) was also a leading landscape artist but had a completely different style and approach to his work. Constable painted close to his home producing large painting of the Suffolk rural countryside in a realistic manner. Some of his paintings include figures at work such as ‘the hay wain’ probably his most renowned work that it one of the most reproduced painting today on a range of goods from greeting cards to biscuit tins etc.
In France towards the end of the nineteenth century another major artistic movement was formed ‘Impressionism ‘ . This radical group of artists that included , Monet, Renoir and Pissario produced colourful landscape painting. They moved away from studio painting instead they worked outdoors quickly capturing light and tone with distinctive brush strokes worked directly onto the canvas. This new style of painting was evocative, spontaneous and had a major influence leading to the birth of modern art.
At we enter the twentieth century major world events occurred. During the two world wars artists were commissioned to depict events on the battle frontlines. Landscape painting changed with artists such as Eric Ravilious ( 1903-1942) recording the changing landscape and Paul Nash ( 1889-1946) painted almost apocalyptic but beautiful light infused scenes of ravaged landscapes. ‘Totes Meer( Dead Sea) 1940-1941 was inspired by wreaked aircraft at Cowley in Oxfordshire it is a stark but beautiful painting. Paul Nash also influenced a group of imaginative English artists known as ‘neo-romantics. This group of artists included Graham Sutherland , John Minton and John Piper. The neo-romantics produced dreamlike landscapes evoking the essence of earlier visionary artists such as Samuel Palmer and the ancients. Graham Sutherland sketched the Pembrokeshire countryside filling up over Forty sketchbooks.
L.S Lowry ( 1887-1976) was born in Manchester and captured the industrial landscapes of northern towns and factories. Using dark industrial colours. He also painted workers on their holidays in his very individual and naive style.
Contemporary landscape artists continue to use landscape in their work experimenting with different media. Richard Long ( b. 1945) is a sculptor, photographer and painter. Long became known in the 1970’s for producing organic art using natural materials and the landscape its self to produce art within the landscape this style of working became known as environmental art.
George Shaw ( b. 1966) a Turner prize nominee uses an unusual media to produce photo realistic painting of modern landscapes. He seems concerned with recording the juxtaposition of post war modern housing and industrial scenes within the landscape. Shaw uses Humbrol paints usually used for painting toy models. In ‘scenes from the passion 2002’ Shaw walked around his childhood home taking photographs from which he produced a series of paintings evoking the nostalgia of his childhood.
Sarah Woodfine ( b.1968) produces three dimensional works in black and white that she encases in glass domes or clear Perspex boxes. They almost remind me of magic theatres or dioramas where we get to peer at the artists intimate imaginary miniature world.
It is clear to me after researching landscape in art that it is a genre that continues to grow
and develop . It is a highly evocation , emotive and organic theme allowing the artist to explore their environment in many imaginative ways.
drawing now between the lines of now contemporary art edited by Downs, Marshall , Sawdon, Selby, Tormey published by I.B Tauris 978 1 84511533 3
all picture sources from Tate online apart from the Sarah Woodfine which is from the Victoria and Albert museum online.