new-york

Ellen Phelan

Barbara Toll Fine Arts

Ellen Phelan demystifies 19th-century landscape painting, not so much by deconstructing the myths that sustain it as by demonstrating anew how the impulse to record nature is inextricably bound up with the need to project personal states of mind onto the objective face of reality. Like Joseph Mallord, William Turner, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Phelan seems to value the direct experience of landscape as well as its imaginative treatment. This can be gleaned from her approach, which is simultaneously meditative and analytical. Beginning in the time-honored plein-air tradition by seeking out and drawing sites in locales as diverse as New York State, England, Norway, and Belize, Phelan’s drawings frequently serve as the starting point for more than one painting, and her considerations of a particular scene can extend over a several-year period.

While each work functions independently,

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