Landscape and Exploration: 1700 to Now
Prior to the 18th century, representations of nature produced by Western artists served mainly as a backdrop for religious, historical, or mythological dramas. But in the 1700s, as European peoples increasingly explored the far corners of the globe, nature and the land itself took center stage. Landscapes became increasingly rich in meaning as artists used them to convey ideas and attitudes not only about Nature, but also about nationhood, God, science, progress, colonial endeavors, and human beings’ place within the cosmos. This course examines western representations of landscape from the Golden Age of European exploration to the present day in paintings, sculpture, photographs, prints, installations, and earth art. We will investigate the variety of styles and strategies artists have used to convey or to question their cultures’ attitudes and beliefs. Readings will be drawn from art history, cultural history, and theories of landscape and representation.