Landscape Art & Virtual Travel: Highlights from the Collections of the HRM & Art Bridges

Through February 6, 2022

At a time when the pandemic has forced us to redefine tourism, Landscape Art & Virtual Travel celebrates artists’ striking ability to transport us to real and imaginary places.

American landscape paintings have always been intertwined with explorations of the great outdoors. In the mid-nineteenth century, many artists meditated on the sublimity of nature, whether gazing at the Hudson River Palisades or embarking on a far-ranging tour. Landscape painters brought distant places into the homes of their patrons, and landscape art, popularized in books and prints, inspired a growing middle class to travel to these destinations. The artists featured in Landscape Art & Virtual Travel continue to bring the world to us and send us out on our own adventures.

Hudson River School artist Asher B. Durand, who traveled throughout the Northeast in search of awe-inspiring scenery, painted an untitled view, possibly of the Adirondacks of New York State. Thomas Moran, whose paintings helped inspire Congress to create the first National Parks, is represented by illustrations of the Grand Canyon in volume two of Picturesque America: Or, The Land We Live In (1874). Works such as these prompted Cynthia Daignault to create Light Atlas, which consists of 360 small paintings, on loan from Art Bridges. Realizing that she could not name one nineteenth-century female artist-explorer, Daignault traveled in a circle through the continental United States, stopping at regular intervals to document her experience, from roadside architecture to empty countryside. In the late 1990s, British artist David Hockney traveled to the American West to paint the Grand Canyon. In 15 Canvas Study, also on loan from Art Bridges, Hockney leaves himself and other visitors out of the frame to allow viewers to connect with the vast, unpopulated landform he depicted.

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Several juxtapositions in the exhibition demonstrate the ways in which Native Americans and African Americans have historically been denied ownership and connection to American soil, specifically in New York State. Duke Site, a recent acquisition from contemporary photographer Jeremy Dennis, is part of the On This Site series, in which Dennis documents scenic places on Long Island that are culturally important to the Shinnecock Indian Nation. In Map of the Frenglish Kingdom of Novum Eboracum (New York) (We All Got To Have a Place We Call Home), Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers) imagines an alternative colonial history of the Hudson Valley, with a multiracial society ruled by a Black pharaoh. The artist’s faux map of the Hudson reminds us that the underlying message of many Hudson River School landscapes, whether intentional or not, was a sense of White ownership.

Incorporating materials found in nature as her canvas, Alison Moritsugu prompts us to explore the precarious relationship between humans and the environment. The idyllic scenes rendered on a fallen tree compel us not to fall for false assurances that the wilderness we take for granted will always exist without our advocacy. Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole underscores our connection to nature in a print based on his painting Childhood, from The Voyage of Life series, which uses a rocky cave and a gentle stream as metaphors for birth and infancy.

The exhibition also features works by Seongmin Ahn, Julie Hart Beers, Marie Louise Brevoort, Marcia Clark, Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr., Eliza Pratt Greatorex, Richard Haas, Alvin C. Hollingsworth, Jordan Matter, Richard Mayhew, James McElhinney, Ana Mendieta (on loan from Art Bridges), Don Nice, Horace Pippin (on loan from Art Bridges), Hiram Powers, Julia Santos Solomon, Winfred Rembert, and William Trost Richards.

Landscape Art & Virtual Travel is part of an ongoing partnership with Art Bridges, which facilitates the sharing of outstanding works of American art and supports partner institutions in expanding and deepening their connection with audiences. The important loans on view offer rich potential for dialogue with nineteenth- to twenty-first-century paintings, prints, and sculpture from the Hudson River Museum’s collection.

 

Support provided by Art Bridges.

 

The Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Landscape Art & Virtual Travel: Highlights from the Collections of the HRM & Art Bridges is Julia Santos Solomon. Learn more about the Residency Program here.

Cynthia Daignault (American, b. 1978). Light Atlas (detail), 2016. Oil on linen, 360 canvases. On loan from Art Bridges, AB.2019.2.