Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection debuts
October 10, 2015 at Portland Art MuseumSeattle, WA, October 5, 2015—Debuting at the Portland Art Museum on October 10, 2015, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection features 39 masterpieces exploring the evolution of European and American landscape painting. On view in Portland through January 10, 2016, the show then travels to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (February 6 – May 8, 2016), the Minneapolis Institute of Art (July 10 – September 18, 2016), the New Orleans Museum of Art (October 14, 2016 – January 15, 2017), and the Seattle Art Museum (February 16 – May 21, 2017). The exhibition presents masterpieces spanning five centuries by artists such as Paul Cézanne, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gerhard Richter and J.M.W. Turner. The exhibition is co-organized by Portland Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum and the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.
“I am excited to be sharing the Seeing Nature exhibit with others,” says Paul G. Allen. “These are really exceptional pieces of art and there’s something about landscapes that is universally attractive, which is why I find them so interesting. By sharing these paintings with the public, it is my hope that people will have the same eye-opening experiences I had when I first saw these pieces.”
The exhibition explores the development of landscape painting, from a small window on the world to interpretations of artists’ personal experiences with their surroundings on land and sea. It reveals the power of landscape to locate the viewer in time and place—to record, explore, and understand the natural and man-made world.
“Seeing Nature reflects the geographical and historical breadth of the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, and we are pleased to be sharing the exhibition with the public,” said Mary Ann Prior, director of arts collections, Vulcan Inc. “These works will live on far beyond any of us. As temporary custodians of these masterpieces, we take great care and responsibility in being their cultural conservators.”
In the 19th century, the early Impressionists focused on direct observation of nature. This exhibition is particularly strong in the works of Claude Monet. Five Monet landscapes spanning 30 years are featured, from views of the French countryside to one of his late representations of water lilies, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1919. Cézanne and his fellow Post-Impressionists used a more subjective approach to creating works such as La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888-90). Also on view is Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s rare landscape masterpiece, Birch Forest of 1903, exhibited for the first time since its restitution in 2006.
Several works in the exhibition offer varying interpretations of a single location. Venice’s romantic vista is seen through multiple lenses, from Canaletto’s detailed renderings, to J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Moran’s dreamy visions, to Manet’s photographic crispness and Monet’s nearly abstract composition. The Grand Canyon’s immensity is seen in Moran’s intimately scaled depiction, Arthur Wesley Dow’s mesmerizing pattern of ridged peaks, and David Hockney’s multi-canvas composition.
The last part of the exhibition explores the paintings of 20th century artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Gerhard Richter, and Ed Ruscha, who brought fresh perspectives to traditional landscape subjects. For example, O’Keeffe’s Black Iris IV, though a close-up of a single flower, represents a microcosm of full-scale landscape vistas.
Each museum will develop unique programming to complement the exhibit. The Portland Art Museum will present a variety of related programs in conjunction with Seeing Nature. The Museum is collaborating with Allen Institute for Brain Science, Oregon Health & Science University’s Brain Institute, and NW Noggin, as well as other regional partners, to bring a neuroscience lens to the Museum’s featured exhibition. Through “The Nature of Seeing” an interpretive gallery inside the exhibition, as well as multimedia content and public programs, visitors will have unique opportunities to explore what emerging research tells us about how our brains respond when we view landscape paintings and the natural world.
From a strong foundation of Asian art to noteworthy collections of African and Oceanic art, Northwest Coast Native American art, European and American art, and modern and contemporary art, the strength of SAM’s collection of more than 25,000 objects lies in its diversity of media, cultures and time periods.
Image Caption: David Hockney, The Grand Canyon, 1998. Oil on canvas, 48 1/2 x 169 inches. Courtesy of Paul G. Allen Family Collection.