Landscape and Modernism

Artists like Paul Nash , Graham Sutherland and John Piper took up the landscape gauntlet after the turn of the Century . John piper often dismissed in art circles as an old Romantic I feel is one off the most underestimated painters of the last century . Influenced by Picasso piper took up the new ideas of modernism and applied then to landscape . A subject that Picasso hardly ever touched. A sense of mourning surrounds Pipers art on viewing but Piper was always concerned with depicting a “pleasing decay” john piper coventry cathedral  John Piper .Coventry Cathedral (1940) Although The devastation of Coventry can hardly be called pleasing decay Piper’s depiction was nevertheless an astute response to a changed environment .The painting executed on the morning just after the heavy bombing of Coventry by the German Luftwaffe shows the city’s great medieval cathedral in ruins. The roof has collapsed, the windows are smashed, and the rubble is still smoldering.  It was a metaphor for the entire British nation as it teetered on the brink of annihilation. In the darkest hour of World War 2, the public actually saw it as an image of defiance. Because in the face of all that terrible destruction, those old English walls are standing firm. And if a building won’t give up, neither will the people.. in it we can see Picasso’s cubist forms but it was another idea of Picasso that Piper began to experiment with and that is the appropriation of materials. Picasso and Braque had developed cubism into what has now been described as synthetic cubism . That  is the use of other materials rather than paint on the canvas . Real pieces of paper replaced painted flat depictions of paper. Real scores of music replaced drawn musical notation. Fragments of newspaper, playing cards, cigarette packs, and advertisements that were either real or painted interacted on the flat plane of the canvas as the artists tried to achieve a total interpenetration of life and art. It was the use of these ready made commercial images that can be deemed the first form of pop art .Angle Bay 1938                                           John Piper  Angle Bay  1938

The above is an example of Piper’s appropriation of materials into landscape painting .


Back to Landscape

Constable and Turner

Both Constable and Turner were inspired by their environment but the main difference according to John Virtue is that Constable was concerned with the immediate environment where as Turner’s concerns were much more widespread.

Recent  reevaluations of Turner’s work suggest that it heralds a new age . In paintings like Rain,Steam and Speed we see a knew dawn approaching and it is a reflection of the changing economic and political scene. However Ann Bermingham also states that Constable’s art was not merely a concern with the Arcadian and an harmonious relationship to nature but highlight the plight of the workers embroiled in the countryside while dark clouds loom above.

Rain steem and speed

J M W .Turner Rain ,Steam and Speed -Heralding a new dawn

What is important for me though is that both artists were influenced by their environment and record the tumultuous times of the industrial revolution.

It is this change and development that has now become my concern.

55th Venice Biennale

It was after seeing Carrolls work that I set out to explore other artists who were specifically involved with materials . It was these artists that I began to dwell on and note and in hindsight it was a good decision considering the wealth of art to see .

Italian Pavilion

Image Francesca Grilli, Fe2O3, Ossido ferrico,  Own photograph 2013 See more at:

Spanish Pavilion

ImageOwn Photograph

Lara Almarcegui 

Almarcequi ‘s art is concerned with building materials . The shell of the Spanish pavilion was analysed and the materials to the exact measurement were then displayed in the building . There is a concern with building materials and their eventual destruction . It reminds me of Anselm Keifer’s work and the slow decay often seen in his work . Almarcegui herself is concerned with the transformation of materials  brought about by political, social, and economic change— “Wastelands are important,” Almarcegui says, “because they are the only places in the city that remain without definition.”

Vietnamese pavilion

Vietnamese pavillion

Taking the actual ruined remains of a Christian Church from Vietnam it ivokes ideas of separation,deconstruction and re organisation  

Venice Biennale 2013

It was quite an overwhelming experience . i heard someone say and i can’t reference sorry but they explained theyhad never been to Venice before and just happened to be there for the Biennale . so much to as that they said it was the best experience of their life . Some of the most noteworthy things for me are below .



Lawrence Caroll

ipad photos 527

Own photograph

The most notable quality of Caroll’s work is the sheer size and unfortunately these photos do not do the work justice . huge canvases constructed on something I can only describe as railway sleepers . Also for me is the use of the materials . Iron jutting from the canvas , light bulbs and ice …!

The strange thing for me is that i entered the pavilion my own ignorance meant i did not know   the meaning of Holy See . however on leaving the pavilion I rember being incredibly moved by the work. I journeyed back to speak to the attendant who revealed it was the pavilion of the Vatican …!ipad photos 529

Own Photograph 

A useful discovery was an interview with Caroll offering some insight into his work

Jeremy Deller

Of course while in Venice i had to visit the British Pavillion who hosted a selection of work by the Artist Jeremy Deller . As mentioned before I am aware of making political statements but somehow Deller just can’t help himself . i must admit I found the exhibition intriguing and am becoming quite fond of Mr Deller

A good day for cyclists

 A Good Day For Cyclists 

A noteworthy piece was A good Day For Cyclists which boasted a huge bird of prey clutching a range rover in its talons.Of course there is the obvious revnege of nature on man and the mechanical encroaching into the environment . perhaps drawing us to the extraordinary power of nature to reclain but that would’t be enough for Deller.

In an exhibition guide in the Daily Telegraph to the exhibition Dellers real motive becomes apparent.

A guide to the exhibition reveals that Deller also had a more specific target in mind. Six years ago, police investigated an incident on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, when passers-by saw a pair of protected hen harriers being shot out of the sky. It later transpired that Prince Harry and a friend were the only known people to be shooting that day, but the case was dropped, as the birds’ carcasses couldn’t be found.

“We don’t know who pulled the trigger,” Deller told me at the opening of his exhibition earlier today. “Maybe it was a gamekeeper. But if you or I shot a hen harrier in Britain, we would go to prison for six months. So someone got away with it. And that bothered me.”

By  Daily telegraph 28th May 2013