Exhibition | Landscapes of the Mind: British Landscapes

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 5, 2015

Sir Brooke Boothby 1781 by Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-1797

Joseph Wright of Derby, Sir Brooke Boothby, 1781 (London: Tate)

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As noted at ArtDaily:

Landscapes of the Mind: British Landscapes from the Tate Collection, 1690–2007 / Paisajismo británico. Colección Tate, 1690–2007
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, 25 March — 21 June 2015

On March 25th Landscapes of the Mind: British Landscape Painting, Tate Collection, 1690–2007 was presented for the first time ever in Mexico City, an exhibition organized by Tate in association with Museo Nacional de Arte, as part of the celebrations of the Dual Year between Mexico and the United Kingdom. The exhibition presents 111 artworks by British and European artists, with a plurality of techniques (painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture/installation, etc.) which ponder the evolution of British landscape in art history. The term ‘Britain’ is understood as the geographical entity of the British Isles, i.e., the archipelago that includes England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, before the independence of the latter in 1921.

CA9jouTUIAAEHfx.jpg_largeThis genre was explored in Britain during the 16th century with the use of documents describing the topography, geology, history, and legends of the said land. It gained popularity throughout the 17th century, with the discoveries of explorers, naturalists, and merchants who helped expand the limits of the British nation to the four parts of the world. By the late 18th century, the landscape genre had become a dominant trend in Britain.

According to Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, “the reasons for the predominance of landscape in British visual culture are many and varied: the extraordinary diversity of physical landscapes in such a relatively small geographic area; acute sense of loss of a pastoral and rural ideal world because of rapid industrialization during the 18th and 19th centuries; identification of the aristocracy of classical culture field; the immense impact of the natural sciences, and at the same time, the belief that close observation revealed both the moral and the hidden spiritual truth behind appearances”.

The nine topics developed by curator Richard Humphreys aim to introduce British culture through great classical painters of the 18th century such as Thomas Gainsborough; continuing with artworks of romantic and impressionist artists of the 19th century, like John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, John Martin, John Singer Sargent and James Tissot; and finally addressing modern and contemporary landscapes by artists such as David Inshaw, Sir Stanley Spencer, and Paul Nash.

Considering the importance of a current view on the history of landscape and the need for a continued dialogue between the ages; in addition to meeting the great interest of a younger generation in discovering the artistic production of its own time, Dr. Agustín Arteaga, Director of the Museo Nacional de Arte, managed the incorporation of David Hockney’s Bigger Trees Near Warter or /ou Peinture sur le Motif pour le Nouvel Age Post- Photographique. In 1984, Museo Tamayo presented the traveling exhibition Hockney Paints the Stage, an exhibit shown after the failed attempt to include a graphic series of nudes during the Cultural Olympiad in 1968, which were eventually censored. After visiting Mexico City in 1984, Hockney traveled to the state of Oaxaca, where he produced a series of paintings and graphics inspired by a hotel in Acatlán. Tate preserves in its collection some works from this series. Nearly 30 years after, Hockney returns to Mexico with his biggest artwork accomplished so far: a picture of monumental proportions, more than 4.5 by 12 meters, consisting of 50 paintings, done in six weeks in 2007 for the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of London, and donated to Tate the following year, along with two digital reproductions. The image depicts a landscape of East Yorkshire, a region where the artist lived, shortly before the arrival of spring when the trees begin to sprout.

Alongside Landscapes of the Mind, a comparative exercise linking landscape tradition in Britain and Mexico is included, this latter is exhibited as a dialogue with the newly renovated galleries of the Museo Nacional de Arte in the permanent exhibit. The relationship was established through the canvas Mexico Valley (1837) of the London traveler artist Daniel Thomas Egerton. His work coexists with a selection of paintings by the Mexican artist José María Velasco.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalog print run of 2,000 copies, consisting of 142 black/white and color images, with texts by curator Richard Humphreys and edited by Museo Nacional de Arte. As part of the show, Museo Nacional de Arte offers an Academic Program aimed at a wide audience, including a lecture every Thursday at 17:00 with varied presentations including one by the curator Richard Humphreys; a commented film series of the best of British cinematography; weekend and specialized workshops; interpretive materials downloadable via the website, as well as guided tours.


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