Thursday, February 5, 2009

Landscapes in the Folk Art Collection

By: Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhbitions
Landscapes and townscapes have always been favorite subjects for folk artists. During both the 19th and 20th centuries, these scenes have expressed personal and communal values through the “look” of the countryside.

Views of early 19th-century towns and villages show thriving centers of commerce or evidence of prosperity and progress. These were the areas in which folk artists lived and worked, and knew well by experience. Late 20th-century folk art landscapes are more often based on recollections of experience, and communicate traditional values and nostalgic sentiment.

Poestenkill, New York by Joseph Hidley and Winter Village by Edwin Johnson appear very similar in composition, as they both incorporate clusters of buildings and people engaged in various activities. The intent of each artist, however, is very different. Hidley painted many views of his village in the 1860s, using the surrounding hillsides as vantage points and documenting specific buildings and the layout of the town at that time. Johnson, who resides in Fly Creek, New York, paints idealized composite views taken from his recollections of the many villages he has seen throughout his life in upstate New York.

Right: Poestenkill, New York, 1862, by Joseph H. Hidley (1830-1872), oil on wood panel. Gift of Stephen C. Clark, N0382.1955
Left: Winter Village, 1991, by Edwin Johnson (b. 1934), mixed media on masonite, Gift of Edwin Johnson, N0079.1991

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