Landscape and Western Art

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS: Landscape and Western Art looks at the history of arts relationship with the landscape from renaissance painting to contemporary environmental art.
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Landscape art theory focuses on the range of ideas about, and images of the natural environment. Landscape and Western Art looks at the history of arts relationship with the landscape from renaissance painting to contemporary environmental art.

Rather than just focusing on landscape painting, in Landscape and Western Art Malcolm Andrews looks at various different relationships, grouping them into themed chapters.

The role of landscape in allegorical religious paintings is investigated through focusing on artists like Albrecht Durer, and identifying iconography and narrative in such paintings for the viewer, for example the depiction of a wide sweeping scene containing a hermit and lions may be indicative of St Jerome, one of the four Latin fathers of the Christian Church.

Andrews considers the role of the garden in early European culture reflected by the position of villas and manors, as well as how landscape is depicted in paintings to incorporate the ‘viewed landscape’ by including a window frame in the painting, or through the inclusion of a whole room, which shows interior space of the room and exterior space of the landscape beyond it.

An interesting chapter in this book considers the map as an art work. While many maps are plain some are ornate and include smaller panels of landscapes and city scapes of places of interest.

The sublime landscape is also discussed and includes the idea of ‘Salvator Rosa’. Rosa was an artist who often painted large scenes of tumultuous, harsh, unforgiving natural environments and his name became a descriptive term for these forms of paintings.

The final chapter in the books focuses on the expanding movement of environmental based art referring to large earth works by Robert Smithson or the ephemeral works by Andy Goldsworthy.

Landscape and Western Art is a high quality, academic resource that is concise and well structured. It is easy to read and each chapter is focused on a particular aspect of landscape. A wide variety of images accompany the writing that help shape the readers understanding of the ideas raised, and a Bibliographic Essay following the chapters of the book provides a good source of further reading.

This book identifies and introduces many of the various ways in which landscape intersects culture, religion, and emotion through art and leads the viewer to consider more than just the landscape painting. It is an interesting and informative read and would suit readers who value a more in-depth look at a particular subject.

Landscape and Western Art is published by Oxford University press and forms part of the History of Art series. It retails for $29.95.

Landscape and Western Art
Author: Malcolm Andrews
Genre: Art; theory;
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 978-0-19-284233-6
RRP: $29.95

Jade Wildy
About the Author
Jade Wildy is an art theorist and historian based in Adelaide, Australia and she is currently studying for a Masters of Art History at the University of Adelaide. Jade holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, with a major in ceramics from the University of South Australia. Jade aspires to become an art writer and researcher to pursue her love of visual art and art history. Her current research interests centre around contemporary art with a particular focus on Environmental Art, but she also has a love for psychology, biology and contemporary culture through art, music and dance. Jade enjoys working in her established home studio, as well as fiction and arts writing, and have written numerous reviews for ArtsHub Australia on both visual and performing arts in addition to several book reviews.