Terra Foundation Announces Collaborative Exhibition of Landscape Paintings from across the Americas

  • CHICAGO, Illinois
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  • May 28, 2015

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Thomas Cole, Landscape with Figures: A Scene from “The Last of the Mohicans,” 1826. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1993.

The Terra Foundation for American Art announced today the upcoming exhibition Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic, the first-ever exploration of landscape painting from a truly pan-American perspective. Bringing together more than 100 works of art from private collections and museums in Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, and the United States, the exhibition opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on June 20.

"Picturing the Americas exemplifies our belief that art has the power to both distinguish cultures and unite them,” said Terra Foundation Curator Peter John Brownlee. “The exhibition positions the historical art of the United States in a rich and meaningful cross-cultural dialogue between national artistic traditions, the organizing partners, the wider network of scholars and advisors across two continents who have guided the exhibition’s development, and ultimately the visitors who will come to see it.”

Developed jointly in an innovative partnership between the Terra Foundation, the AGO, and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, in Brazil, the exhibition invites visitors to take a nearly 10,000 mile artistic journey from Canada’s north to the southern tip of Argentina and Chile through the work of some of the world’s most acclaimed landscape painters. Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Two spectacular depictions of Rio de Janiero separated by a century: Felix Emile Taunay’s Baia de Guanabara:Vista da Ilha das Cobras (c. 1830) and Tarsila do Amaral’s strikingly modernist Postcard (1929);
  • The majesty of the western United States captured in Albert Bierstadt’s Yosemite Valley (1868) and Georgia O’Keefe’s stirring and intensily personal Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II (1930);
  • A psychedelic aerial rendering of the iconic Valley of Mexico and its famous volcanoes by Gerardo Murillo (“Dr. Atl”), The Shadow of Popocatepetl (1942); and
  • Both icy tips of the Americas, as seen through the lens of Rockwell Kent’s Calm (Tierra del Fuego) (1922–25) and Lawren Harris’s Grounded Icebergs (c. 1931).

Co-curated by Brownlee; Valéria Piccoli, chief curator of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo; and Georgiana Uhlyarik, the AGO’s associate curator of Canadian art, Picturing the Americas reflects on the ways that nature has shaped our individual and collective identities—culturally, socially, and politically.

“The exhibition not only highlights the connections and continuities between Canada and the peoples of the Americas who share the same land mass, but also the ways in which landscapes communicate aspirations, nationhood, and distinct cultural identity,” said Uhlyarik. “By bringing together these iconic works from various nations we invite visitors to revisit their familiar icons and discover new ones, to engage with environmental issues, and consider the land as a space of encounter, contest, and contemplation.”

Staged as a series of encounters between works of art, visitors, and the land, the exhibition is arranged around a series of dramatic groupings, each calling attention to a major theme, including “Field to Studio,” “Land as Resource,” and “Land Transformed,” among others.

“Much effort was put into explaining and understanding our respective art historical narratives; Picturing the Americas expands upon them,” stated Piccoli. “How can we learn from one another? What are the things we share? These are the questions we were interested in finding answers to. And this is what we’ve learned from the whole collaborative project: the notion that, despite our differences, we share common concerns and ambitions, which are visible in works of art.”

Picturing the Americas will be on view at the AGO until Sept. 20. The exhibition will then travel to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, AR, (Nov. 6, 2015–Jan. 18, 2016) and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Feb. 27–May 29, 2016), just prior to the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Additionally, a 280-page exhibition catalogue with essays by the three co-curators and nearly 50 scholars and curators from across the Americas will be published in association with Yale University Press.

Tags: American art

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