“Landscape as Metaphor”

Columbus Museum of Art

“Landscape as Metaphor: Visions of America in the Late Twentieth Century” was an exhibition filled with sound-the drip of melting ice, the incessant hiss of white noise, the creaking of branches. And there were smells, too, of prairie grasses, cedar, and humid, packed earth. In scale, the installations (an entire gallery-sized space was allotted to each artist) echoed 19th-century American landscape paintings in which the vast territories depicted were meant to fill the viewer with humility. Today’s descendants have moved light years away from the expeditionary optimism of those panoramas. Every work in this exhibition was ambiguous and inquisitive, as if it were striving to grasp what remains lost or elusive.

Mark Tansey’s Water Lillies (all works 1994), an aquamarine homage to Monet’s immense paintings, included an inverted image of the old Impressionist turning a wheel near a bursting

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