Sunday, January 08, 2006

back amidst the sublime

You might recall that about 2 weeks ago I visited the New York Historical Society in order to see the exhibition, Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New York Historical Society. But because I was a lazy klutz and failed to leave home early that day, I found myself racing through the galleries with very little time to check out the exhibition. I had plans to rendezvous with a old friend that afternoon and thus, could not be late, which is why I failed to see the entire show. Fearful that I might be admitted to the hospital soon and possibly miss the exhibition by the time it closes on February 19th, I went to the museum this afternoon. Though a little tired, I'm happy that I went there and was able to see the entire exhibit without worrying about pressing time or appointments. I would have been upset with myself had I missed it.

The paintings are lovely and so inspiring. Looking at the art, my spirits were revived. According to captions in the exhibition, Hudson River School artists, Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand, believed that nature had the powerful ability to heal the spirit. It's the contemplation of the sublime that leads to mental and spiritual tranquility. I, however, didn't need to be in the midst of a scenic landscape to feel renewed and at peace. The Hudson River School works themselves did it for me.

The artist, George Inness, followed in the steps of the early Hudson River School masters Cole and Durand. Unlike his predecessors, he is known for a style in which his landscapes aimed to stir the emotional pulse of his audience not the intellectual. His paintings in the exhibit are reminiscent of Monet and Cezanne. I knew about Inness as a Hudson River School artist, but he never captured me like Cole, Church and Bierstadt for example. But after seeing just a small sample of his paintings today, I began to look at his work differently. Of course, they're ascetically beautiful but it's the undeninable emotional power of some of his paintings which I found to be so hypnotizing. Unfortunately, I couldn't find pictures of his paintings that are in the New York Historical Society exhibition, but I hope the following give some idea of his artistic skill.


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