PRINT October 1999


It cannot be emphasized too often that a number of the great pioneers of modernism—Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Mondrian, Braque, Kandinsky, Miró—were by formation not only landscape painters, but landscape painters of a very special kind. They were topographical painters, who aspired to capture, not just the physical lineaments of the terrain they depicted, but its very genius loci. They wanted to enfold into their paintings the aromatic smells of Provence, or the warmed breezes of Corsica and the south of France, or the brisk sea-winds of the Dutch coast, or the harsh textures of Catalonia. It was this confidence that painting could do justice to more than the narrowly visible that, as the century progressed, mutated into the pursuit of expression, or the conviction that visual equivalents could be found for something else that wasn’t strictly visible: the mind, or spirit.

It would therefore

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