Sunday, June 03, 2012

In Depth Isms 2

George M. Bruestle, Light and Shadows
While predominantly a painter of landscapes, George Bruestle could be more accurately described as a painter of sunlight.  The intensity with which he renders light as if falls on rocks, fields, and foliage makes his small and intimate landscapes radiate.  Light and Shadows is rare in Bruestle’s oeuvre for its large size, making his characteristic loose paint handling seem even more expressionistic by its scale.  Bruestle’s trademark juxtaposition of light and dark comes through in the contrast of sun bleached rocks and white fencing against the darker wooded recesses and cast shadows of the canvas.  The ripple and swell of the ground recalls the geological upheaval that took place as glaciers deposited these rocks across the region. 
Bruestle moved with his family to the village of Hamburg, just north of Old Lyme in 1905, after visiting the area year after year.  Although not directly involved with the group residing at Florence Griswold’s boarding house, many colony artists lived in the countryside outside of town, including Robert Vonnoh, Eugene Higgins, and Oscar Fehrer.  Bruestle was one of the earliest painters to come to the region and one of the first to introduce an Impressionist style to the colony there.  His son Bertram also trained as an artist and carried on a family tradition of painting the Connecticut landscape.

Friday, June 01, 2012

In Depth Isms

The current exhibition, ...isms: Unlocking Art's Mysteries, is drawing to a close. Assistant Curator Amanda Burdan, who left in April to take a position at the Brandywine River Museum, shared her thoughts about some of the paintings on view. Over the next week we will post her insightful articles.

Frederic E. Church, A Catskill Landsape, ca. 1858

Included in the current exhibition in a section entitled, “Romanticism,” the work of Frederic Church might be more readily associated with the term “Hudson River School.” Not a bricks-and-mortar school, but a style of painting, the Hudson River School artists were known for their great attention to detail, rendering minute details of grass, leaves, or rocks to advertise both their observational skills and their technical prowess. The “Romantic” aspect of this kind of painting can be found in the subject matter, usually a natural scene of great, awe-inspiring beauty that emphasized the sublime aspects of the world.

During a period when Church was sought out out exalted views of volcanoes, terrifying icebergs, and exotic rainforests for his paintings, A Catskill Landscape may seem a tame subject. When Church visited the Catskills with his new bride in 1860, the area was already a fashionable resort.  Sightseeing tourists enjoyed “sunrising,” gathering early in the morning to meditate on the panoramic view from hilltop vantage points   Church’s treatment of the scene accentuates the dramatic aspects of the wild foliage and distant mountains by lighting them with a blazing atmospheric effect.   His scientific study of nature helped Church achieve a likeness so convincing that viewers thrilled to be transported to his wild locales, even if they were as close to home as the Catskills.