Sunday, September 18, 2011

Visiting the National Academy of Design Museum

The Morning of Life

The Evening of Life
Today Lauren and I visited the Museum of the National Academy of Design which has now re-opened, and has free entry for the weekend. We were excited to find that their collection of Hudson River School paintings was fairly well represented. Especially in the lobby where they now have hanging two six-foot-plus paintings by Asher B. Durand. I was excited to see these two  prominantly displayed, because they are strong allegorical landscapes which find their foundations in the European tradition, and refer to the Classical landscapes of Claude Lorrain and Poussin. Although the common view of American landscape painting is as a fairly naturalistic representational school, it is important to note that those leanings grew from a solid understanding of how the landscape can reflect philosphical, theological, and poetic ideals. Also worthy of note is that Durand, and all of the artists of the Hudson River School were capable of painting very naturalistically from their imaginations as the European masters did. Having understood how artists of the past had orchestrated ideal landscapes from the creativity of their own minds to convey human meaning, Durand and others were able to convey those ideals in the same fashion using elements and poetic devices found in their detailed outdoor study of nature in the United States. 
Landscape, 1850
In this "Landscape, 1850" (also at the National Academy) we see a very similar design to "the Morning of Life", but applied to an American Hudson River view. Instead of Greek costumes the story is told with a conversation between two artists holding their portfolios. My feeling is that all of these are great paintings, and that regardless of the 'clothing' the figure-landscape is an exceptional vehicle for artists to express the human condition, and address as philosophers and poets, those issues that we all face. Here are some of my recent attempts at the Ideal Landscape:
Erik Koeppel, "Europa" 36 x 42 inches, oil on canvas 2011
Erik Koeppel, "Heart of the Catskills" 35 x 46 inches oil on canvas
Erik Koeppel, "Vision in the Wilderness"58 x 38 inches, oil on canvas

Thank you for reading. Images from summer painting trips are next.

1 comment:

  1. Erik, I'm curious as to how much of these compositions are from your imagination. I'm also wondering how you might have re-designed the tree shapes in these paintings. I've often noted that the trees I see in nature are not as elegant in form as those in HRS paintings.