Sotheby’s American Art auction (19 November, New York) spotlights artists who focused on shape, color and the power of abstraction to heighten the beauty of the landscapes they knew best.
T his unique, tightly curated section of the November 2019 American Art sale brings together works of art traditionally offered in separate auctions of American Art and Canadian Art. Art of the Americas explores the cultural and geographical subjects that provided profound influence for each artist, whether through historical narratives or their own personal experiences, across the expansive American continents.
Watch: Emily Carr’s Artistic Celebration of the First Nations
Emily Carr’s Artistic Celebration of the First Nations
Thanks to recent important exhibitions such as The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris—a traveling show curated by Steve Martin and supported by a collaboration between The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the annual exhibitions at Dulwich Picture Gallery—global appreciation for Canadian Art is stronger than ever before.
The evocative landscapes of Emily Carr and Lawren Stewart Harris are synonymous with modern Canadian Art and share much in common with the American artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, who were likewise masters of depicting their native geography. These artists all focused on shape, color and the power of abstraction to heighten the beauty of the landscapes they knew best.
“Long ago I came to the conclusion that even if I could put down accurately the thing I saw and enjoyed, it would not give the observer the kind of feeling it gave me. I had to create an equivalent for what I felt what I was looking at—not copy it.”
Also included are detailed representations of explorations into the diverse environments of North and South America, highlighted by Albert Bierstadt’s Estes Park, Colorado and Frederic Edwin Church’s South American Landscape. All the artists celebrated here documented, in various formats, the changing landscapes and cultures of the American continents throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
“Maine to me is almost like going to the surface of the moon. I feel things are just hanging on the surface and that it’s all going to blow away. In Maine, everything seems to be dwindling with terrific speed.”
“After a disagreeable journey across an elevated plain with a cold piercing wind and a sprinkling of rain we finally came to the edge of an eminence which overlooked the valley of Chota. And a view of such unparalleled magnificence presented itself that I must pronounce it one of the great wonders of Nature. I made a couple of feeble sketches this evening in recollection of the scene. My ideal of the Cordilleras is realized.”
“[Dogtown] is forsaken and majestically lovely as if nature had at last formed one spot where she can live for herself alone...[It] looked like a cross between Easter Island and Stonehenge—essentially druidic in its appearance—it gives the feeling that an ancient race might turn up at any moment and renew an ageless rite there.”