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Monthly Masters’ Discussion - Sept. 2018 - Bierstadt, the Hudson River School & Us

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:51 pm
by minniev
Introduction

Albert Bierstadt was one of a group of American landscape painters known as the Hudson School. In the second half of the 19th century, they produced a copious number of lavish, romantic landscape paintings featuring the wild beauty of the mountains, forests and waters of the continent. These paintings featured dramatic lighting and exquisite detail. “Looking Down Yosemite Valley” is a classic example.

Bierstadt himself was German born, and painted epic European landscapes before he relocated to the US in the late 1850’s. His prolific work drew countless honors on both continents, and he was financially and critically successful in his day. A point about Bierstadt that persuaded me to choose one of his works rather than another Hudson River painter was his connection to photography. He often traveled to these breath-taking locations with his brother, who was a noted photographer of the day, and he often painted from his brother’s captures. His brother specialized in shooting stereoscopic pairs for use in the popular parlor viewing device that every middle class family had. There is an interesting link in the Resources section about this.

Look at the Bierstadt painting below, and consider his influence on modern landscape photography. There are links in the resource section to guide you further. Share your thoughts about the painting, about the Hudson River School and how you see those principals affecting the work you see by current landscape photographers in galleries, exhibits, on 500px, even on this site. Here are some questions to guide your thinking.

Questions to Consider

1. Is this likely a realistic painting of the scene in the mid 1800s, or is it idealized? Support your thinking on this, and tell us whether you agree with that approach or not?
2. What are the strategies Bierstadt used to make this and other paintings so dramatic? Do those strategies apply to landscape photography today? Do you use those strategies? If you do, feel free to post an example. Note the article on Luminous Landscape, linked below, which gives us ways we can implement some of their approaches in our own work.
3. What influence do you think the Hudson River painters had on landscape photography as a whole?
4. What do you think of the composition of “Looking Down Yosemite Valley”? The lighting? The framing? The color? Would you want it on your wall? Why or why not?
5. Bonus question for those willing to read the article about the stereoscope: What do you think of the author’s theory? Do you see evidence in his paintings of Bierstadt using stereo pairs as reference images? Explain.

Links for Further Study (I apologize for any links that don’t work properly but I’m working on my ipad this weekend and can’t check as thoroughly as usual).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bi ... roject.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bierstadt
http://www.museumsyndicate.com/artist.php?artist=102
https://www.albertbierstadt.org/the-com ... l?pageno=1
https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.6707.html
https://americanart.si.edu/artist/albert-bierstadt-410
https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/08/arts ... anted.html
http://www.sullivangoss.com/albert_Bierstadt/
https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hurs/hd_hurs.htm
http://counterlightsrantsandblather1.bl ... -west.html
http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/autum ... -landscape
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_River_School
https://luminous-landscape.com/lessons- ... -painting/
http://photo-review.net/?p=107

Re: Monthly Masters’ Discussion - Sept. 2018 - Bierstadt, the Hudson River School & Us

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:58 pm
by Psjunkie
All I can say is WOW, what a talent.......and another great Monthly Masters..

Re: Monthly Masters’ Discussion - Sept. 2018 - Bierstadt, the Hudson River School & Us

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:24 am
by minniev
Psjunkie wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:58 pm
All I can say is WOW, what a talent.......and another great Monthly Masters..
Thanks for dropping by on it Frank.

Re: Monthly Masters’ Discussion - Sept. 2018 - Bierstadt, the Hudson River School & Us

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:36 am
by Matt Quinn
minniev wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:24 am
Psjunkie wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:58 pm
All I can say is WOW, what a talent.......and another great Monthly Masters..
Thanks for dropping by on it Frank.
Minnie, Great topic for pM. A lot to learn.

I have seen several of the HS paintings over the years; they are mammoth, frequently taking up a wall or a good portion of one in a museum gallery. BUT, viewing several of them in a brief period of time is like eating a quart of chocolate moose tracks ice cream in one sitting. (Not that I would know.) And I found them very imitative of each other, almost locked into a style and formula. I have no formal training, study or experience with painting, so my reaction is very much that of "a man in the street."

Now I'll read some references and think about your questions. Many thanks.

Matt

Re: Monthly Masters’ Discussion - Sept. 2018 - Bierstadt, the Hudson River School & Us

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:42 am
by minniev
Matt Quinn wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:36 am
minniev wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:24 am
Psjunkie wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:58 pm
All I can say is WOW, what a talent.......and another great Monthly Masters..
Thanks for dropping by on it Frank.
Minnie, Great topic for pM. A lot to learn.

I have seen several of the HS paintings over the years; they are mammoth, frequently taking up a wall or a good portion of one in a museum gallery. BUT, viewing several of them in a brief period of time is like eating a quart of chocolate moose tracks ice cream in one sitting. (Not that I would know.) And I found them very imitative of each other, almost locked into a style and formula. I have no formal training, study or experience with painting, so my reaction is very much that of "a man in the street."

Now I'll read some references and think about your questions. Many thanks.

Matt
I found myself wondering if I’d feel the same as you if I saw too many. Sometimes I feel the same way if I look on 500px. Too much of a good thing , all that unrelenting beauty?