From the first experiments with aerial perspective, to the Impressionists’ revision of painted light, to records of the creeping modernisation of the 20th-century countryside, landscape has long been a popular and experimental genre in art. The MFA Boston’s permanent collection includes a wide variety of historic landscape paintings and drawings, but its latest exhibition looks to the contemporary scene. Where can today’s landscape artists – faced with a modern world that often seems aggressively globalised, littered with cities and enveloped by the digital cloud – venture next?
The 10 contemporary art works in ‘Landscape, abstracted’ celebrate the beauty, power and intricacy of the natural world, but approach it sidelong through a series of combinations, contrasts and fragmentations. One new commission, a huge wall painting by Jason Middlebrook, seems to feed landscape through a prism, or perhaps some early computer program, fragmenting it into patterned lines that could be bar codes or wood grain. Another, by Anne Lindberg, extends coloured threads across the gallery space, suspending a landscape in the air. Tara Donovan creates an cumulus cloud out of Styrofoam cups; Teresita Fernández cuts soft, moss-like patterns into sharp metal; Barbara Gallucci conflates garden furniture with the nearby hedge, each moulding the landscape to their own experiences.
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‘Landscape, abstracted’ is at the MFA Boston from 16 August 2014–30 July 2017.