Philbrook Museum of Art

Tulsa, OK

800-324-7941 918-749-7941

Front of Museum, photo by John Hazeltine

Museum Gardens, photo by John Hazeltine


Green Woods and Crystal Waters The American Landscape Tradition


The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma has organized a major exhibition showcasing the rich variety of American landscape painting over the past fifty years. Green Woods and Crystal Waters The American Landscape Tradition features examples from public and private collections throughout the country. The exhibition continues through Nov. 7, 1999 followed by a national tour to two additional museums in 2000 (Jan.: Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida and Apr.: Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, Iowa).

Brooks Anderson's lucid images of northern California are openly romantic and provocative. Cathedral, 1991. Oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches. The Philbrook Museum of Art, museum purchase in honor of Jon R. Stuart for his service as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, 1997-99.

Green Woods & Crystal Waters examines American landscape painting in the second half of the twentieth century through the works of 89 artists. It builds upon the legacy of such 19th century European masters as J.M.W. Turner and Camille Corot and, later, American painters such as Frederic Edwin Church and Thomas Moran, who captured the grandeur of the American continent. The exhibition also highlights Philbrook's own collection of contemporary paintings, featuring six works acquired over the past decade. (right: William Beckman, Parsholl's Barn, 1977 Oil on canvas, 63 x 72 inches. Collection of Malcolm Holzman)

Keeping the city at a safe distance, Green Woods and Crystal Waters focuses on the pastoral views and dramatic wilderness that have provided powerful American subjects over two centuries. The diverse works in the exhibition range from the objective depiction of nature to the romantic or mystical use of landscape as a vehicle for poetic and spiritual concerns, to the expressionist's reshaping of nature. Each of these very different approaches is central to visual tradition and has colored portrayals of the landscape. (left: Carolyn Brady, Red and White Parrot Tulips Unfolding, 1987. Watercolor on paper, 18 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches. Famsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, Gift of the artist 1987)

In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, - no disgrace, and no calamity which nature cannot repair.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature.

America's concept of God in nature, articulated in the essays of Emerson and Thoreau and illustrated in the nineteenth century works of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and George Inness, was carried into the twentieth century through the works of Charles Burchfield, Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley. Today, those spiritual and poetic concerns are echoed in the elegant panoramas of James Winn, the classical views of David Ligare and the vistas of San Francisco by Paul Wonner. (left: David Ligare, Landscape for Baucis and Philemon, 1984. Oil on canvas, 32 x 48 inches. The Wadsworth Athenaeum. Hartford, Connecticut The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund; right: Sheila Cardner, From Twin to Alice, 1997. Oil on canvas, 34 x 60 inches. Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho)

The images of Philip Pearlstein, Alfred Leslie, Alex Katz and Jack Beal and the painterly views of Jane Freilicher, Fairfield Porter, Paul Georges and Neil Welliver typify the realism that evolved in the northeast in the late 1950s and was central to the revival of realism in the 1960s and 1970s. This imagery stands in contrast to the open-ended, improvisational landscapes of the Bay Area figurative painters such as Richard Diebenkorn, Theophilus Brown and Wayne Thiebaud, all reflecting the influences of abstract expressionism. (left: Jan Imber, The Ledge, 1997. Oil on board, 32 x 22 inches. Courtesy of Nielsen Gallery, Boston, MA)

Similarly, the bravura landscapes of Wolf Kahn, Nell Blaine, Paul Resika and Bernard Chaet convey the impact of Hoffman, de Kooning and Rothko on landscape painting. Other artists reflect the deeply personal; the expressionism of Hartley and Dove, an aspect that resonates in the works of Alice Neel and more recent painters such as Cregory Amenoff and Jim Waid. Wolf Kahn is one of the most popular landscape artists in America. His work reflects the influence of the Abstract Expressionists and his use of color is intuitive, sensual and open-ended. Kahn's paintings and pastels of the Vermont countryside are lushly colored and seductively vibrant. (left: Wolf Kahn, Rhapsody in Yellow, 1997. Oil on canvas, 70 x 90 inches. Courtesy Beadleston Gallery, New York)

The tradition of plein air painting will be traced through the small landscapes of Edwin Dickinson and his student George Nick, the intimate canvases of Lennart Anderson, the meticulous observations of Rackstraw Downes, and the poetic accounts of weather and season by Keith Jacobshagen. (right: Alice Neel, Sunset Riverside Drive, 1957. Oil on canvas, 50 x 26 inches. Courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York.)

The spirit of regionalism that once dominated American art will be represented by the paintings of Alexandre Hogue, and is given a contemporary face in the works of Harold Gregor, David Bates, Russell Chatham and Woody Gwyn. The revival of landscape themes as a means of conveying myth and allegory, too frequently overlooked in recent discussions, is reflected in the mysterious views of Gillian Pederson-Krag, the western expanses of Chuck Foresman and the primeval woods of Tom Uttech. (left: Woody Gwyn, Interstate Roadcut, 1996. Mixed Media on panel, 22 x 22 inches. Collection of the artist)

Lava Capped Mesa, Big Bend illustrates the strange, surreal character and vast expanses of the region north of the Mexican border on the Rio Grande River. Like Hogue's early Taos landscapes, this work and the other Big Bend paintings are rendered with awe, passion and reverence. Alexandre Hogue, 1976. Oil on canvas, 34 x 56 inches. University of Tulsa.

Alexandre Hogue

Alexandre Hogue was chairman of the University of Tulsa Art Department from 1947 to 1968. His work is instinctively expressive and allegorical, while impassioned. Hogue was an environmentalist with the stern, humorless zeal of a Calvinist minister. His best paintings were based on subjects he experienced first hand, knew well and to which was deeply attached. They range from the early sketch trip paintings of Texas, the mountains around Taos, New Mexico, to his return to the Big Bend area of Texas almost forty years later.

Hogue's landscapes of disaster and despair center on his early and acute understanding of the ecological fallacies of over-plowing and over planting. Farmers literally scraped off the grasses and then depleted the rich topsoil, which greatly increased the damage of the mammoth windstorms that swept across the plains of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Hogue had little sympathy for this partially self-induced plight and his striking paintings are probably the first to consciously and emphatically center on ecological concerns.

At the age of seventy-two, Alexandre Hogue began a series of major landscape paintings of the Big Bend country, an untouched geological and topographical wonderland stretching northward from the sandy shores of the Rio Grande river and the Mexican boarder. The canvases are based on a group of small pastels that were begun on site in the summer of 1965 and completed later in his studio. The group of scenes of the desert its steep mesas, deeply eroded mountains, and vast canyons makes a remarkable closure to Hogue's long, illustrious career. They depict the majestic beauty of nature's forces untouched by man.

The Tulsa showing of Green Woods and Crystal Waters The American Landscape Tradition is sponsored by the Contemporary Consortium, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, The Mervin Bovaird Foundation, The John Steele Zink Foundation, Anchor Paint, the Paul L. & Helen I. Sisk Charitable Trust and the Oklahoma Arts Council.


Resource Library editor's note

In November, 2013, the Rockwell Museum of Western Art forwarded to Resource Library a news release containing information about Alexandre Hogue: An American Visionary - Paintings and Works on Paper, an exhibition held at the Rockwell Museum September 21, 2013 through January 5, 2014. Although the text did not contain a sufficient word count for a separate article, we are providing it below:

Alexandre Hogue: An American Visionary - Paintings and Works on Paper features more than 50 exceptional works by one of the titans of the art world. The exhibition, co-curated by Susie Kalil and James Peck, will be an edited version of the retrospective -- which featured nearly 200 works - organized by the Art Museum of South Texas and curated by Kalil. It will feature paintings and works on paper from major museum collections across the country and private collections in Texas and Oklahoma. A number of works from Alexandre Hogue's daughter, Olivia Hogue Mariño, will also be included in the exhibition. The exhibition will be accompanied by Kalil's 2010 monograph, Alexandre Hogue: An American Visionary.
Alexandre Hogue (1898-1994) was one of the most acclaimed artists to come to prominence during the Regionalist period (1930s and 1940s) of American Art. Along with other artistic masters such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, Alexandre Hogue helped to define the aesthetic of the era. The Southwest -- Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma -- provided the settings that allowed him to immerse himself in the wonders of the earth. While he infused his works with a new American spirit, full of sensuous, undulating lines and brilliant, visionary colors, Hogue rejected the term Regionalism as both incorrect and too limiting. Indeed, the simplistic notions of Regionalism as a generic "American" style celebrating farmers and the "heartland" has been under revision for years. Hogue's visionary works only confirm the limits of such labels, and his expansive artistic legacy pushes us to consider what it means to speak of Regionalism in American art.
In a career that spanned more than seventy-five years, Alexandre Hogue created a substantial body of work which changed considerably as it developed over the decades. All the while, he stuck by his innermost belief: a sense of life within the earth that endures despite man's ravages. He created a varied body of work in which the relationship between human and nature is a central, unifying concern. Founded on a deep accord with nature, his work expresses the beauty and fragility of this relationship. Each series -- from the hauntingly beautiful Taos landscapes and prophetic canvases of a dust-covered Southwest to his depictions of the fierce geological phenomena of the Big Bend -- serves as homage to nature.


Readers may also enjoy:

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Read more about Philbrook Museum of Art in Resource Library.

rev. 10/26/10, 11/4/13

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010-2013 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.