On December 23, British landscape art arrives in West Palm Beach with “Pastures Green: The British Passion for Landscape.” On display at the Norton Museum of Art to April 5, the exhibition features roughly 60 works from many notable artists and illustrates the evolving theme of landscape art in Britain through oil paintings, watercolors and photography.
|Flint Castle, 1835, JMW Turner|
The exhibit is a duel project between the American Federation of Arts and the National Museum Wales, from which the pieces were selected. Keeper of Art Oliver Fairclough put together a catalogue that represents landscape painting done throughout the United Kingdom as well as by British artists abroad, but he paid special attention to works created in Wales. “This is British landscape very much with a Welsh accent,” he says.
As a chronicle of the rise of the art form, “Pastures Green” covers the Industrial Revolution though the postindustrial present, touching upon such movements as romanticism, impressionism and modernism along the way. In addition to delicate watercolors and oil paintings depicting the sheer splendor of landscape, the works also explore the gritty, industrial milieu in which many of these artist worked. For example, Lionel Walden’s Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night, painted between 1895-97, is a dark, almost indistinguishable representation of how trains and industrialism altered the (current) Welsh capital. This theme penetrates many artworks included in the collection and further explores just how the British landscape changed as industrialism grew worldwide.
|Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night, 1895-97, Lionel Walden|
Of course, the aforementioned romantic and impressionistic interpretations of Britain are huge draws for this exhibit. Visitors will adore Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge, which features a hazy, misty rendering of the London landmark. JMW Turner’s timeless watercolors add a dreamlike—yet fully realized—perspective to British shores. And more modern pieces, such as Oskar Kokoshka’s London, Waterloo Bridge, depict how artists continued to fall in love with U.K. landscapes throughout the twentieth century.
|Charing Cross Bridge, 1902, Claude Monet|
One of the most modern lenses used to capture British landscape was the camera lens. From as early as the mid-1800s, artists were exploring these lands by lens, and “Pastures Green” does a wonderful job of depicting the evolution from John Dilwyn Llewellyn’s circa-1850s, black-and-white captures through artfully constructed, turn-of-the-millennium images, such as Richard Long’s Snowdonia Stones (along a five day walk in North Wales).
These layers of themes and mediums come together to form a textured exhibition, one West Palm Beach is lucky to receive. Whether you’ve traveled to the United Kingdom many times or never set foot on the Queen’s land, you’ll find yourself transported in time and place to a country that has inspired artists for centuries.