Notes From a TV documentary
Landscape art, civilization and Ansel Adams Landscape photography.
Civilisation is tied to Landscapes.
Landscapes help define who we are and what we call home. Yet Landscape art hasn't always depicted the way the world really is. Its often a vision of what we would like it to be.. a fantasy or utopia .
They can represent our shared values and sometimes they can even allow us a glimpse of something transcendent.
One of landscape arts greatest images were made in California in the spring of 1927 . A young photographer and experienced climber had trekked deep into snowbound Yosemite and things didn't go according to plan and he was left with just two glass plates . Under pressure he produces what many consider one of the master landscape pieces of America or any landscape artists. Monolith.
When Adams came on this scene he fell in love. But lets look at where landscape art started. Lee Chung was Chinas first landscape artist that reflected physical ideology promoting order. What is nature? What lies beyond surface appearance? What is behind the beauty and the deep distance? What truly moves the universe and how above it all does the dialogue between flowing water and the adamant face of that eroded rock bring, is harmony and what everyone wants ... happiness and peace.
Lee Chungs paintings presents the universe as a harmonious whole in which everything and everyone no matter how humble, has their role. Chinese believe the energy in nature landscape called chi. The invisible energy in the world Nature expresses to, is heavens and the earth in the manifestations of mountains and woods. That's why nature is extremely important in Chinese life. By late 1100th century landscape paintings were deep rooted in China. Painting academies were started and books were written about the philosophy and practice of landscape art. To be Chinese meant to be civilised and to be civilised meant to paint.
In 1569 in the war of the lowlands between the Spanish army the north of Holland broke away. So landscape was not claimed but reclaimed.. from the sea 200000 acres of sea turned into glorious landscapes and pastures between 1607 and 1612 while the Dutch were at war. It was reclaimed with the aid of 43 windmills pumping the sea water out. It is Said that God created the world and the Dutch created Holland At generations of war in Germany the Dutch country was born by taking the sea and using windmills to remove water to make place for the land.
The sails of the mills don't accidentally form the cross of the Redeemer There's a Dutch saying that Just as the windmill needs the wind to move its sails, so man needs the breath of God to act. Never forget the word of God .
You have a covenant with God. You are his modern chosen people when you look at the mill. Jacob van Ruisdael in 1670 used his landscape paintings and especially the windmill ( the great emblem of Holland) landscapes to celebrate this. And then England and France at war with Dutch in between During industrial revolution in England landscape paintings came into its own
In 1827 the first photograph was taken and detail became the focus of art. It was never as detail as a photograph.
In America only in 1868 Albert Bierstadt “ among the sierra Nevada became glorious works of landscape paintings as they discovered their own magnificent landscapes that compared to the alps in Europe that was celebrated in Landscapes throughout the world at the time. A pride in the American landscapes was formed by these paintings. The Hudson river school then pioneered a technique called luminum. It used light effects and concealed brush strokes ( frederic edwin church Cotopax 1862) that created paintings that was considered so overwhelmingly detail that some people ised glasses to admire their work. Although Few artists would admit it at the time this detail owed much to early photography. It was due to photography that this scale of majesty moved next. To Yosemite to be precise. Starting in 1920’s Ansel Adams pioneered an approach that insisted photography was not simply a mechanical process, but true art. Ansel Adams’ Canyon de Chelly 1942. His method was to work backwards from the image he had visualised and then anticipate the moment when the light and subject would be seen at their most illuminating and then with the press of a button realise that vision.
In 1960 Ansel published a book. This is the earth. His photographs became preaching and his visual sermons were radiant, mystical, ecstatic. They were passionate statements of how humanity could be redeemed through the encounter with nature. He became a patriarch of environmentalism . He tied together the fate of man with the fate of the earth. For some it was when a photographer became a prophet.
From a TV documentary on same subject matter.