/online exhibition/ 21’st century landscape — at Petzel Gallery

21’st century landscape Petzel Gallery
456 W 18th Street.
NY 10011, New York

While landscape painting dates back to antiquity, it only became a serious genre when artists began using landscapes as a retreat from the complexities of modern life. The 19th century brought landscapes to the forefront through plein air techniques. The landscape became a reflection of philosophical ideas when previously, landscapes were simply an image of pastoral idyll.

The effects of the anthropocene on art have intensified with time. Today we are faced with new challenges: climate change, environmental destruction, and population density. The 21st century has an even more strained relationship with nature and an even greater dependence on technology. Our ecological crisis marked the collapse of traditional landscape, and modern gives way to contemporary. We have a radical new conceptualization of landscape, no longer tethered to factual depiction. Our perception is distorted by digital aesthetics which results in new, imagined landscapes. Scenes that could only be afforded by contemporary technology are present in the works by Yael Bartana, Thomas Eggerer, Sean Landers, Adam McEwen, Rodney McMillian, Sarah Morris, Seth Price, Stephen Prina, Dirk Skreber, John Stezaker, Nicola Tyson, and Corinne Wasmuht. Today, we can only dream of the bucolic landscapes of the past while we try to make sense of the present.

John Stezaker, Tears, 2017–2018, Found painting and collage, 20.1 x 23.8 inches 51 x 60.5 cm © John Stezaker

“He who looks on nature with a “loving eye,” cannot move from his dwelling without the salutation of beauty; even in the city the deep blue sky and the drifting clouds appeal to him. And if to escape its turmoil—if only to obtain a free horizon, land and water in the play of light and shadow yields delight—let him be transported to those favored regions, where the features of the earth are more varied, or yet add the sunset, that wreath of glory daily bound around the world, and he, indeed, drinks from pleasure’s purest cup.”

– Thomas Cole, Essay on American Scenery, 1836

Adam McEwen, Itch That Can’t Be Scratched, 2017, Inkjet print and graphite on cellulose sponge, 56.7 x 87.6 x 5 inches 144 x 222.5 x 12.7 cm © Adam McEwen
via press release, Petzel Gallery, New York
All images © the gallery and the artist(s)