Landscape painting, a bygone subject to artists focused on installation and performance art, has persevered. Now, as conversations about climate have become plentiful, it seems important to examine the impact of landscape painting in the 21st century. Landscape Painting Now: From Pop Abstraction to New Romanticism is a comprehensive book categorized into six chapters: Realism and Beyond, Post-Pop Landscapes, New Romanticism, Constructed Realities, Abstracted Topographies, and Complicated Vistas. Eleven of the eighty contemporary artists featured have previously worked in Crown Point Press’s studio, including Julie Mehretu, Peter Doig, and Wayne Thiebaud. Art critic Barry Schwabsky traces the history of landscape painting, and short texts by art historians Robert R. Shane, Louise Sørensen, and Susan A. Van Scoy discuss individual artist’s contribution to the genre.
The work reproduced encompasses nearly every style from hyperrealist representation to gestural abstraction, and includes visual narratives of destruction, climate change, fantasy worlds, utopian cities, and cultural identity. The chapter “Realism and Beyond” covers what its title suggests: observations of reality. Some of these serene portraits of land and nature are incredibly detailed, while others are more abstract. Using what was within reach, Jane Freilicher, stylistically a traditional painter, arranged still lifes of flowers in vases along her studio window sills. Her brushstrokes and warm palette capture an intimate and unassuming point of view in two different settings; a window view of bustling Manhattan, and the countryside of Mecox Bay in Long Island. Freilicher highlights the essence of a time and place by depicting everyday scenes.
“Post-Pop Landscapes” presents an exciting iteration of the genre with a chapter dedicated to artists such as Alex Katz and David Hockney. Vibrant color and animated forms give a modern twist to traditional landscape painting. Although Wayne Thiebaud does not classify himself as a Pop artist, his use of an unusual palette and choice of subject matter often creates an association with Pop. He uses bright blues for what would typically be the dark grey shadow of a tree, and eye-catching pinks for highlighting a glistening lake.The landscapes of “New Romanticism” represent motifs of nostalgia and yearning, and artist Peter Doig reinforces these feelings by painting from photographs and memories. He paints distorted and dream-like Caribbean vistas, inspired by his experiences in Trinidad, where he lives. Doig’s work is narrative and figurative. These are common elements in the romantic landscape genre. A few works in the chapter have an abstract expressionist aesthetic, which can generate emotional interpretations with atmospheric qualities.
Featured artists are Etel Adnan, Francis Alÿs, Hurvin Anderson, Mamma Andersson, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Lucas Arruda, Ayman Baalbaki, Jules de Balincourt, Ali Banisadr, Hernan Bas, John Beerman, Amy Bennett, Cecily Brown, Gillian Carnegie, Noa Charuvi, Nigel Cooke, Will Cotton, Cynthia Daignault, Verne Dawson, Vincent Desiderio, Lois Dodd, Peter Doig, Rackstraw Downes, Tim Eitel, Andreas Eriksson, Inka Essenhigh, Richard Estes, Genieve Figgis, Jane Freilicher, Barnaby Furnas, Maureen Gallace, Tim Gardner, Franz Gertsch, Adrian Ghenie, April Gornik, Isca Greenfield-Sanders, Pat de Groot, Daniel Heidkamp, Barkley L. Hendricks, Israel Hershberg, David Hockney, Shara Hughes, Yvonne Jacquette, Merlin James, Yishai Jusidman, Alex Kanevsky, Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer, Per Kirkeby, Makiko Kudo, Matvey Levenstein, Li Dafang, Liu Xiaodong, Damian Loeb, Antonio López García, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Julie Mehretu, Justin Mortimer, Maki Na Kamura, Jordan Nassar, Silke Otto-Knapp, Celia Paul, Eggert Pétursson, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Neo Rauch, Alexis Rockman, Jean-Pierre Roy, Tomás Sánchez, Lisa Sanditz, Serban Savu, George Shaw, Mark Tansey, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Wayne Thiebaud, Luc Tuymans, Cinta Vidal, Kay WalkingStick, Corinne Wasmuht, Matthew Wong, Jonas Wood, Lisa Yuskavage and Luiz Zerbini