On the occasion of the Leeds Art Fund Centenary this display draws on the gallery’s rich collections, exploring the revision of the landscape tradition in British art throughout the last century and the meaning of that tradition for artists today.
Curated by Debra Lennard, the 2012 recipient of the Contemporary Art Society’s annual Starting Point
Curatorial Fellowship for graduate curators.
Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.
Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.
UK, Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery
- 27 September 2012 − 18 August 2013