The Rock­ies and the Alps

The Ne­wark Mu­seum show­cases the rugged art of Alpine paint­ing

American Fine Art Magazine - - Event Preview: New York, Ny -

With his ren­der­ings of the Alps, Swiss painter Alexan­dre Calame in­flu­enced an en­tire generation of artists. In the 19th cen­tury, Calame’s paint­ings were promi­nently ex­hib­ited in Paris and his prints made their way across the globe, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a sort of tem­plate for artists to study. His sci­en­tific at­ten­tion to detail— whether it be his anal­y­sis of rock for­ma­tion or the flow pat­terns of a river bed—serve as build­ing blocks dropped into larger land­scape pain­ters. This ap­proach to moun­tain-scapes was em­u­lated not just by the Euro­pean artists who stud­ied with Calame, but the Amer­i­can artists who crossed paths with him.

Draw­ing from its ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of 19th-cen­tury land­scape art, the Ne­wark Mu­seum high­lights the con­nec­tions be­tween Amer­i­can and Euro­pean alpine paint­ings in

The Rock­ies and the Alps: Bier­stadt, Calame, and the Ro­mance of the Moun­tains. Fea­tur­ing more than 70 paint­ings from 40 artists, the exhibition traces the pro­gres­sion of moun­tain paint­ings from the in­flu­ences of Calame and works of early artists, such as J. M.w.turner and John Ruskin, to the 20th-cen­tury camp­ing scenes in the Cana­dian Rock­ies of John Singer Sar­gent.

The exhibition opens with two large works, one a view of Mount Tor­rent by Calame and the other Al­bert Bier­stadt’s view of Yel­low­stone Western Land­scape. Bier­stadt trav­eled to the Alps in 1853, and the ex­cur­sion had an in­deli­ble in­flu­ence on his paint­ings when he trav­eled to the Amer­i­can Rock­ies for the first time

in 1859.The trip was one of rugged adventure, and he wrote,“this living out of doors, night and day, I find of great ben­e­fit…i do not know what some of your Eastern folks would say, who call night air in­ju­ri­ous, if they could see us wake up in the morn­ing with dew on our faces!” This spirit of ex­plo­ration was felt by other moun­tain pain­ters of the Amer­i­can West.“artists were trav­el­ing into un­charted ter­ri­tory, com­ing back with not just paint­ings but also spec­i­mens of rocks and flora as well as pho­to­graphs of these hard to ac­cess spa­ces,” ex­plains exhibition co-cu­ra­tor Tri­cia Laugh­lin Bloom.

The mu­seum has taken an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary ap­proach when se­lect­ing its views of the West, ac­knowl­edg­ing the Na­tive peo­ple who had lived in the re­gion long be­fore Bier­stadt and his fel­lows ar­rived on the scene. In a large print

ti­tled Ball Play­ers, Ge­orge Catlin de­picts Na­tive men play­ing a game that is a pre­cur­sor to modern lacrosse. “As an artist, he was very care­ful in his de­pic­tions of the in­dige­nous peo­ple he en­coun­tered when he went West,” Bloom says of Catlin.

While the soar­ing paint­ings of Bier­stadt, Calame and oth­ers leave an im­pres­sion, the exhibition also draws a closer fo­cus on moun­tain paint­ings as en­ter­tain­ment.a col­lec­tion of post­cards, stere­o­scope cards and early pho­tog­ra­phy will show how reg­u­lar peo­ple were first en­coun­ter­ing the moun­tains of the Amer­i­can West. In a sec­tion of the exhibition ti­tled “Tech­nolo­gies of the Pic­turesque,” views of the Rock­ies will be shown in a sim­u­lated magic lantern show for an im­mer­sive view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Rock­ies and the Alps will re­main on view at the Ne­wark Mu­seum through Au­gust 19.

Al­bert Bier­stadt (1830-1902), Western Land­scape, 1869. Oil on can­vas, 36 x 54 in. Col­lec­tion of the Ne­wark Mu­seum. Pur­chase 1961, The Mem­bers’ Fund 61.516.

Alexan­dre Calame (1810-1864), Moun­tain Tor­rent Be­fore a Storm (The Aare Rier, Hasli­tel), 1850. Oil on can­vas, 385/8 x 54¼ in. As­b­jørn Lunde Col­lec­tion. Op­po­site page: Al­bert Bier­stadt (1830-1902), Cho-looke, the Yosemite Fall, 1864. Oil on can­vas, 34¼...

John Fred­er­ick Kensett (1816-1872), Mer de Glace, View of Platz, ca. 1845. Water­color and gouache over char­coal on pa­per, 9¼ x 105/8 in. Col­lec­tion of the Ne­wark Mu­seum, Gift of Paul Ma­griel 1966, 66.34.

Wor­thing­ton Whit­tredge (1820-1910), The Wet­ter­horn, 1858. Oil on can­vas, 39½ x 54 in. Col­lec­tion of the Ne­wark Mu­seum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Katzen­bach, 1965, 65.143.

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