Landscape has been a major source of inspiration to artists for several hundred years and continues
to be a favorite subject to even the most contemporary 20th century painters. By placing a number of
landscapists side-by-side, as we have made here, one cannot but marvel at the range of expressive
possibilities that can derive from a familiar subject. Artists bring to the land a diverse set of artistic
traditions and personal experiences, making their particular impressions on an objective subject:
landscape appeals to artists that come from the most traditional backgrounds; it appeals to those
figurative artists emerging from the period of Abstract Expressionism; it can even act as a motif for
artists who are totally abstract. The gamut of these experiences is shown here.
We have Emile Gruppe and Ken Gore, for example – New England painters greatly influenced by
the American Expressionists and by other 19th and early 20th century landscape painters – whose
vigorous and brilliant oils are reminiscent of their American predecessors. Nell Blaine and Wolf
Kahn come from a very different tradition. Having studied with Hans Hofmann in New York,
their work reveals unusual attitudes toward space and color – more reminiscent of the Abstract
Expressionists inspiring them. In this vein, moreover, Robert Dash, a painter from Long Island, sees
the opportunity to display the wondrous qualities of acrylic paint in his landscapes – its texture and
luminosity – while Karl Schrag explores the full potential of color orchestration in all media. At the
full opposite extreme we have Robert Singleton – very different from all the others – who employs
the memory of landscape as motif for his totally abstract paintings.
If the expressive potential of landscape is varied, so are the methods by which the paintings are
created. Artists like Ted Christensen will pain only on location, even if it means traveling miles
to the scene and waiting days for the correct climate and light for his painting. Conversely, Diane
Burko has never yet seen the mountains she paints; she works from photographs alone, regarding
her landscapes simply as a vehicle for setting color relationships into deep space.
Some landscape painters were lucky enough to be born into the environment that continues to
intrigue them today. Charles Berninghaus, for example, has lived in New Mexico all his life and
brings to his work the traditions passed onto him from his father, Oscar Berninghaus, on of the
earliest founders of the Taos art colony. Others have had to migrate to their favorite environment,
perhaps bringing with them the traditions of another region. Jean Parrish – although she’s been
living in New Mexico for many years – still depicts her southwestern landscape with a New
England palette. Clark Hulings has traveled widely before settling in the southwest, and Wilson
Hurley also moved to New Mexico, taking very different aspects of the same environment for his
inspiration. Robert Maione traveled still further for inspiration – all the way to Italy – where he
has adopted many of the traditions from the great masters who lived there centuries before. Peter
Homitzky, on th other hand, paints modern America, the industrial sites of New Jersey.
Unlike Homitzky, many landscape painters prefer a land that is untouched by the hand of man.
In New England, Walter Bollendonk and Marshall Joyce take full advantage of the nearby North
Atlantic coast, painting rich and dramatic seascapes. Anther New England painter, Eric Sloane,
views his landscape as an opportunity to record history by documenting the barns and bridges built
by our forefathers. And Michel Coleman, from a very different part of this country (Utah), records
the Indians and animals residing in the open. If these artists find in the land an important aspect of
our heritage, at least one artist has devoted much of his time to its preservation: Alan Gussow.
For all these differences, the artists in this volume have one very basic ingredient in common: the
land is their inspiration and they are all dedicated to celebrating its virtues.
We would be glad to introduce these talented and dedicated artists, hoping their diverse approaches
to landscape will be its own source of inspiration for years to come.