Notes: Landscape painting

March 13, 2010

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century modes of landscape painting, whether ideal, heroic, or sublime conveyed nature as infinite, mysterious and inviolate. Although the myth of nature as invincible and constant has persisted in art to this day, it is increasingly obvious that nature is fragile and its resources finite.

Acknowledging that nature is a construction of knowledge, [as artists we might] focus on social contradictions to reveal the state of the relationship of human beings with their natural environment.

Each artist also [might] elucidate the idea of the landscape as a human construction.

[Denise Oleksijczuk] considers contemporary art that interprets landscape as a product of specific social contexts. The work critiques the historical aesthetic conventions and ideological assumptions of previous landscape art.

Through a critique of earlier representations of nature, however, all of these artists re-evaluate and re-politicize a general, aestheticized nature in the context of specific cultural and environmental problems.

Although the word “landscape” has expanded beyond its dictionary definition as a “picture representing a view of natural inland scenery” or, “the art of depicting such scenery” (Webster’s 672), in common usage it remains synonymous with beautiful views of nature. Certainly, the very idea of landscape implies a degree of separation and observation (Williams 1973 120). The type of distance achieved by the separation of the country and the city.

–Denise Oleksijczuk, “Lost Illusions”