Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Not a new idea

In one of those synchronistic events I love so much, I picked up De Kooning's Bicycle: Artists and Writers in the Hamptons from the pile of 'books to be read', and started reading it whilst eating lunch today. It's the story of all the famous artists like Jackson Pollock and de Kooning who moved to the East End of Long Island and made it such a center for artists.

And the book seems fine, and engaging, and worth reading. The author, Robert Long, can write nicely and persuasively and the readng is enjoyable. Go buy it (click the link above) and read it, or do as I've done and check it out from the library.

But what struck me in the first chapter was the description of how the landscape painter Thomas Moran, after painting his famous grand landscapes like those of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, came to live in quiet East Hampton, where he engaged in the beautiful landscape close at hand (and the famous wonderful East End light).

According the author, Robert Long, Moran came to understand the counsel of his friend, John Ruskin, who urged him "Please in some degree attend to what I wrote of the necessity of giving up the flare and splash. Force yourself to show leaves and stones - such as God means us all to be shaded by, and to walk on - and be buried under - till you can see the daily beauty of them and make others see it."

So the idea of throwing over the extraordinary landscape to focus on the ordinary landscape that surrounds us is not new. I guess now I will have to further embark on studies of landscape painters - an enterprise which seems likely to be useful.


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