The Portland Art Museum is pleased to present a major exhibition exploring the evolution of European and American landscape painting. Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection features 39 paintings from five centuries of masterpieces drawn from the collection of Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen.
Co-organized by the Portland Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, the exhibition presents masterpieces spanning nearly four hundred years, from Jan Brueghel the Younger’s series devoted to the five senses to Canaletto’s celebrated views of Venice to landscapes by innovators ranging from Joseph Mallord William Turner, Paul Cézanne, and Gustav Klimt to David Hockney and Gerhard Richter. Paintings by Thomas Moran, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Hart Benton, and others provide an American perspective on landscapes at home and abroad. Seeing Nature includes five Impressionist canvases painted in France, London, and Venice by the French master Claude Monet.
“Seeing Nature offers an extraordinary opportunity to perceive the world through the gaze of some of the most important artists in history,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director of the Portland Art Museum, who is curating the exhibition in Portland. “These masterpieces have never before been on display together. Paul Allen is one of the Northwest’s most significant art collectors and philanthropists, and his willingness to share his landscape masterpieces with our visitors offers an unprecedented chance to be inspired by works of art.”
The exhibition premieres at the Portland Art Museum on October 10, 2015. It will then travel to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the New Orleans Museum of Art before closing at the Seattle Art Museum in early 2017.
Seeing Nature explores the development of landscape painting from a small window on the world to expressions of artists’ experiences with their surroundings on land and sea.
The exhibition reveals the power of landscape to locate the viewer in time and place—to record, explore, and understand the natural and man-made world. Artists began to interpret the specifics of a picturesque city, a parcel of land, or dramatic natural phenomena.
In the 19th century, the early Impressionists focused on direct observation of nature. This collection is particularly strong in the works of Monet: five great Monet landscapes spanning thirty years are featured, from views of the French countryside to one of his late immersive representations of water lilies, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1919. Cézanne and his fellow Post-Impressionists used a more frankly subjective approach to create works such as La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888-90). The exhibition also features a rare landscape masterpiece by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest of 1903.
The last part of the exhibition explores the paintings of artists working in the complexity of the 20th century. In highly individualized ways, artists as diverse as Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Gerhard Richter and Ed Ruscha bring fresh perspectives to traditional landscape subjects.
The Museum will present a variety of related programs in conjunction with Seeing Nature. The Museum is collaborating with Oregon Health & Science University’s Brain Institute and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, as well as other regional partners, to bring a neuroscience lens to the Museum’s featured exhibition. Through “The Nature of Seeing,” an interpretive gallery inside the exhibition and a series of public programs, visitors will have unique opportunities to explore what emerging research tells us about how our brains respond when we view landscape paintings and the natural world.