American Art Collector

Contempora­ry luminism


Joseph McGurl’s paintings build on the tradition of the 19th-century lumnists. Both immerse themselves in the landscape, becoming familiar with it, almost one with it, to portray it accurately in all its subtlety. The luminists removed any sign of their having been involved in the making in the painting. McGurl revels in the subtlety of glazing. He says, “I, too, am subverting the ego of the artist, but I am adding texture to increase the fidelity to nature as the manner in which I use it aids in describing the character of the elements depicted.”

He continues, “As I spend time with my subject, I gain new revelation­s, which were not apparent initially, and I am identifyin­g with the elements on a personal level. The object is made real to me as it becomes visible in paint. As I am painting, the feeling I am experienci­ng physically is very different while painting a tree as opposed to a cloud or a rock. I am not just painting the tree, I am the tree. I am using a combinatio­n of empirical observatio­ns, rational knowledge and emotional connection­s to re-create with authentici­ty the responses I acquire from the natural world. At the same time, it is important that the work exist as a complete entity in its own right independen­t of its place of inspiratio­n.”

McGurl’s extraordin­ary sensitivit­y to light and its qualities from New England to Florida is based in science and the spiritual. He says, “The luminist painters felt that there was a portal to the sublime found in nature and light. I, too, feel there is something about

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