Category Archives: Research some historic and contemporary artists who work in series with the landscape.

Research Point: Artists working in series with landscape: Monet; Cezanne; David Hockney; Peter Doig; John Virtue and Nicholas Herbert.

Monet:

Grainstack (Snow Effect) 1891 (oil on canvas)

Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day), 1890-91 (oil on canvas)

Stack of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day), 1890-91 (oil on canvas)

Stack of Wheat, 1890-91 (oil on canvas)

Basically if this was a film it would be the same ‘set’ – a grainstack in winter/with snow – on the same ‘stage’… clear sky, distant mountains, row of trees leading to a farmhouse – with different lighting.

So, in a sense what he’s painting are different ‘atmospheres’. Or more precisely, how the atmosphere affects him as the backgrounds are quite radically altered by the change in atmosphere and mood.

He’s painting impressions.

In the first the grainstack, in the strong winter light with the hard shadow, is the focus. The background smudges Turner like into abstract. In the second it feels like dusk… the stack is barely readable but for its shape… the snow on the farmhouse roofs catches the light and becomes the focus – he’s edited out some trees and this has the feel of heading home! It’s capturing stillness. In the third we have moonlight and a crisp eerieness

Does it work… is it of value to the viewer… I don’t know.

For me there may have been a better combination of ‘scene’ and ‘lighting’ to capture a specific mood and the fact it’s the same view doesn’t add to my enjoyment. But I can see for the painter that by painting the same scene you have the same shapes and a lot of visual shorthand, so are freed up to focus on the lighting.

But, for me, it just feels a bit like an excercise.

Cezanne:

Montagne Sainte-Victoire from Lauves, 1904-06 (oil on canvas)

Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 1904-06 (oil on canvas)

Mont Sainte-Victoire, c.1902 (oil on canvas)

Again, like Monet, Cezanne is painting exactly the same landscape in a series.

But it feels different.

Instead of (just?!) painting different impressions (lighting effects) it feels like he’s also trying out different ‘ways’ of painting it. So these are radically different pictures.

Yes, the light and where it falls changes, but that doesn’t seem to be his main focus. He’s changing the ‘way’ he paints the scene so in each of these the landscape looks totally different. Almost like they’re different places… they are fresh and alive.

They don’t feel like a series of the same landscape, they feel like different paintings. Maybe he was mentally in a different place?

As with Monet keeping one element (the landscape) the same frees him up to experiment with other elements.

I really like these.

 

David Hockney:

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These are very interesting and I really like them.

They are different landscapes but a series in the sence they are a ‘series of landscapes’. I couldn’t find any that were of the same view.

So, it’s a series in the sence of… somebody paints lots of dog paintings, or specialises in trains!

They’re painted in the same way, though some seem more abstract, flat, patterned than others. But they all feel so fresh and alive. Full of energy. A different view in different lighting personally expressed.

This works for me and I guess if you paint a series in this sense you build up a visual vocabulary so can ‘sing’ on the canvas more easily than if you’re having to create everything from scratch.

Peter Doig:

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Peter-Doig-concrete_cabin_I

These are a series in the sense they are different views of the same building through trees.

In a weird way these seem the most alike of all the series so far. They may be different views but they all ‘feel’ like the same painting!

Super weird!!!

Maybe, the difference is not intrinsically in the view… maybe it’s in the artist and how he views the world. Here he has a different visual viewpoint but he’s painting the same picture… capturing the same feelings… revealing the same elements of himself?

So they all look the same!

John Virtue:

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I’m assuming the domed building is the same, and as it’s roughly in the same position am putting this into the ‘series of drawings of the same landscape from the same position’ box.

But there the similarity stops.

These seem expressionistic, in that they don’t seem to be really about the reality in front of the artist. Even though it’s recognizably the same view. But more about the artist himself.

They seem to be about how the paint is sploshed and daubed across the canvas. Capturing the energy of its creation, a moment, a feeling. Almost like he’s painting himself rather than the view?!

I guess a series can free the mind. It’s the same view. You can go for it!!!

 

Nicholas Herbert:

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L966 – Sharpenhoe Series, The Chiltern Hills. 22 x 17cm. 2016.

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L968 – Sharpenhoe Series, Looking Across the Bedfordshire Countryside, The Chiltern Hills. 20 x 15cm. 2016.

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L996 – Winter Landscape near Telegraph Hill, The Chiltern Hills. 18 x 13cm. 2016.

I have to admit I don’t like these. Which makes it hard to judge them objectively as a series, but I’ll try!

They seem sub Turneresque and so abstract that it’s irrelevant that they’re in a series. We wouldn’t place them from the same viewpoint by any representational connection.

They’re not reality dimly ’emerging’ from smoke or mists, the castle you can’t quite place and looks like a cloud, nor are they abstract, nor do they capture early morning… nor do they seem to be full of the artist.

I can’t find anything in them to connect with.

And can’t help wondering what the point is of doing a series if the paintings bear no relationship to the view and their only visual connection is style!

In conclusion:

Having looked at these series I’m not fan.

It feels like it can be hugely beneficial to the artist (and on a lower level it’s maybe easier to ‘churn’ out lots of drawings of the same view if you want to sell them… but maybe I’m being cynical… or practical?!)… But I think it definitely helps artists solve problems!

However, is not necessarily the best thing for the viewer in terms of a finished product they can ‘feast’ on intellectually, emotionally, aesthetically… or any other way!

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