de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

A Sense of Place: Location/ Inspiration

September 26 - December 4, 2009


The primary concern of landscape painting is, according to the Oxford Companion of Western Art, "the depiction of natural scenery." Landscape becomes a distinct genre of painting in the seventeenth century when realistically painted country scenes became highly desirable to prosperous Dutch patrons. In the eighteenth century, wealthy British collectors wanted reminders of their "grand tours" through Italy and France, creating a market for the works of Boucher and Fragonard. Landscape became the most dominant mode of painting in the nineteenth century as artists left the studio to work en plein air. The Impressionists took the genre to new levels of acceptance with their sunny and cheerful renderings of the French countryside.

In America, Manifest Destiny and the growing expansion of the West compelled artists to capture the beauty and grandeur of our own country. With the rise of Abstraction in the twentieth century, artists found new and exciting ways to portray the environment, free from the necessity to be representational.

In contrast to the work of Richard Mayhew, which consists of composite impressions of various locations, the works in this exhibition represent a specific reference point. Executed in a variety of media, most of the pieces represent actual locales that one can find on a map. For some artists, such as Michael Mazur, Nathan Oliveira, and Gregory Edwards, the objective was to capture a feeling rather than specific geographic details. For Corneille, the perspective is from a bird's eye view, while for Yvonne Jacquette, it is from an airplane. David Huffman and Weston Teruya prove that landscape can also be used to make social commentary. Obviously an enduring subject matter for artists and viewers, the term "landscape" has been expanded to include seascape, streetscape, cityscape, and even moonscape.

The de Saisset Museum would like to thank Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto; Paulson Press in Oakland; and Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco for loaning art to this exhibition.

— Sheryl Nonnenberg, Guest Curator


Images, left to right: Thomas Moran, East Hampton, Long Island, 19th century, oil on canvas, 31 x 25 in., de Saisset Museum permanent collection, Gift of Robert M. Husband, 1.115. Terry Thompson, Western Motel, 2007, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 in., Museum purchase with funds donated by John Donovan, 2008.3.