LPE Exercise 1.3: Establishing Conventions

Brief

Find examples of 18th and 19th-century landscape paintings and list the commonalities. Find examples of landscape photographs from any era that conform and that break those conventions.

18th and 19th-century landscape paintings

Artist: Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) British

Title: Cornard Wood, near Sudbury, Suffolk (1748)

Size: 122 x 155 cm

Why painted: Painted on spec and sold to a private collector

Artist: John Constable (1776 -1837) British

Title: Stratford Mill (1820)

Size: 127 x 182.9 cm

Why painted: Painted on spec and sold to a private collector

Artist: Thomas Cole (1801-1848) American

Title: A Pic-Nic Party (1846)

Size: 122 x 137 cm

Why painted: Private commission

Features shared by the above paintings

  • Co-existence of nature and civilisation
  • Hints of mortality with cut, dead trees in the foreground
  • Dramatic skies
  • People at work or play
  • Animals
  • Distant buildings
  • Horizon lines in the middle third of the painting
  • Albertian perspective
  • Water
  • Peaceful, idealised bucolic scenes
  • Use of light and shadows to lead to distant buildings or mountain
  • Painted for commercial reasons – either on spec to be sold at exhibition or for a private commission

Landscape Photographs that conform to these conventions

Artist: Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) Italian

Title: Alpe di Siusi (1979)

Why created: Commercial

Artist: Stephen Shore (1947) American

Title: Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California (1979)

Why created: Photobook

Landscape Photographs that do not conform to these conventions

Artist: Peter Kostrum (1979) Slovinian

Title: The End (2007)

Why created: Self-publised photobookbook. Edition of 20.

Artist: Alec Soth (1969) American

Title: The Farm, Angola State Prison, Angola, Louisiana (2002)

Why created: Photobook

Artist: Robert Frank (1924-2019) Swiss

Title: View from Hotel Room, Butte, Montana (1956)

Why created: Guggenheim Fellowship funded project

Artist: Walker Evans (1903-1975) American

Title: Birmingham Steel Mill and Workers’ Houses (1936)

Why created: FSA funded project

Artist: Stephen Shore (1947) American

Title: Proton Avenue, Gull Lake, Sask. (1974)

Why created: Photobook

Artist: Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948) Japanese

Title: Boden Sea, Uttwil (1993)

Why created: Commercial project

Artist: Ben Horne, American

Title: ‘Open Horizon’ Death Valley National Park (2011)

Why created: Commercial project

Artist: Helen Sear, British

Title: ‘Rice Fields’ Milan, Italy (2011)

Why created: Commercial project

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