Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kevin Avery talks about the historical context of the Hudson River School

On July 24th Kevin Avery from the department of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art came to give us a lecture about the Hudson River School Painters. His talk focused on a few major artists and the historical context of their work, as well as the influences behind their ideas. He described how the industrial revolution created a nostalgia for wilderness while at the same time allowing American tourism to take off.

Asher B. Durand drew a lot of his inspiration from the writings of critic John Ruskin and poet William Cullen Bryant who believed in careful observation of nature.

Sketch from Nature (13 13/16 x 9 7/8 in.) ca. 1855 by Asher B. Durand
Graphite on gray-green wove paper (more views of this drawing here)

Interior of a Wood, by Asher B Durand

"Let [the artist] scrupulously accept whatever [nature] presents him until he shall, in a degree, have become intimate with her infinity...never let him profane her sacredness by a willful departure from truth." -- from Asher B. Durand's Letters on Landscape Painting

In the Woods, (60 3/4 x 48 in.) painted by Asher B. Durand in 1855
More detailed views of this painting on the Met Museum website here.

The Heart of the Andes (66 1/8 x 119 1/4 in) painted by Frederic Edwin Church in 1859. More close up views of this painting on the Met Museum website here.

This painting by Frederic Church was inspired by the writings of the naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt. The painting is meant to describe all the layers of the ecosystem, from jungle to arctic mountain top.

Kevin Avery curated the 2004 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Hudson River School Visions, the landscapes of Sanford R Gifford. The book is a great resource if you are interested in this subject, check it out!

No comments: