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If I Have To Look At Another Traditional Landscape Painting, I Think I’m Going to…

March 8, 2010

WARNING: This article will likely upset a whole host of artists, and perhaps even a few art buyers.

Can you smell that? Inhale deeply through your nose. Smell that? That’s the smell of change. And not just your run-of-the-mill, small-time basic change – it’s the smell of significant change taking place in the world of art.

There is a profound shift taking place in the art market, driven by an entirely new breed of art enthusiast, collector and buyer. These are people with distinctive taste. These are people who have a firm and ever-lasting grip on technology; who thrive on “modern”; who consciously strive to separate from the rest of the flock; who collect and display art that reinforces how they envision themselves as individuals. These are people who look at a traditional landscape painting and wonder, “why”?

Landscape paintings are so ten years ago, yet artists today continue to create them in abundant supply. After all, there was a time (10 years ago) when art galleries sold nothing but landscapes. Those days are over. Buyers are more sophisticated now. They demand more, well beyond safe and mundane paintings of a quiet stream, a grouping of trees or a wispy field on a cool fall day.

Buyers today want modern, abstract, surreal, out-of the-ordinary realism, engaging figurative work. They are drawn to and demand art full of emotion and intrigue – landscape paintings don’t even come close to fulfilling this need.

One thing is for certain about artists who create highly detailed, quality landscapes… these artists could paint anything their hearts desire. Landscape artists are typically extremely gifted and amazingly talented professionals. They just need to find new subject matter, and fast.

Brian Walker is Owner,

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 3:37 pm

    Simply being part of a genre that is not landscape does not make art any more unique. There is just as many boring, mundane surreal works as there are landscapes. One thing’s for sure, doing it purely for the market is a great way to insure it’s generic. It should be about some more than that.

  2. March 8, 2010 3:49 pm

    Well put. Total agreement.

  3. March 8, 2010 4:28 pm

    I enjoyed reading this! Made me miss the community and discourse from art school 🙂 I did respond to the article here:

    Recently started following the Discovered Artists Twitter feed and that’s how I got here…anyway, looking forward to reading more! Thank you 🙂

  4. March 8, 2010 6:49 pm

    Brian, You’re so absolutely right.
    Thanks for getting the word out.
    I’ll try to follow your advice – as good as I can.

  5. March 8, 2010 7:23 pm

    sounds like you need to get out more, or at least where there ARE “landscapes”…my personal experience: not being a professional photographer, when i have developed photo from WallMart or where ever, like most tourists, it is like “well…YEAH, that’s what i saw, but….NO…it didn’t capture what i FELT”. an artistic interpretation can do that.
    the OTHER aspect: what can a landscape interpretation DO to the the person looking at it?
    it can evoke a memory of a time, a place, or an emotion, in general. in PARTICULAR, i have sold TWO paintings, different scenes, two different people , that **BOTH** purchased.why? because BOTH were reminded of the areas that they used to take their DOGS [deceased], for walks.go figure…
    what curdles MY milk: this crap as abstract…one piece comes to mind, at the Denver Art Museum: a HUGE , 30’x50′ canvas, pale green, with evenly spaced lines length and width, looking JUST like a subway wall in NYC, selling for 750K.

  6. C.P. permalink
    March 8, 2010 11:01 pm

    Brian, I’m really surprised at this from you.

    Obviously I am not a landscape painter but those I know feel a spiritual relationship with nature. And as someone for whom environmental and nature conservation issues are important, I applaud them. Our landscapes are quickly vanishing and all we will have left to show they existed will be the paintings and photography.

    Regarding technology, I know illustrators, animators, game designers who start by intensive training in traditional media and methods. In fact there is a great resurgence in classical training demanded by young artists today, influenced by these new technologies.

    There is mediocrity in every art genre and every generation of art. I have seen much art that I personally may not like, but I make a point of learning about it. It is all part of the whole of art; it has the right to exist. Furthermore, ALL artists and art lovers, as a whole, are important to the support of the arts and should be encouraged to experience art.

    You make not like landscape but you should try to keep an open mind. There are some really good landscape artists. If you do not want landscape in your gallery, then just say so. If you don’t want traditional painting in your gallery, then say so. But don’t just dismiss it as worth nothing.

    Now, for some reason, I feel the need to do a landscape painting…

  7. March 9, 2010 7:42 am

    Every once and a while a blog post is written that stimulates thought, discussion, disgust, anger, frustration, agreement and disagreement.

    This particular post has generated the single highest number of comments (public and private) that we’ve ever received, both in support of the article’s premise, and against. This is a good thing.

    Part of our role here is to engage people in discussion about art. We’ve played it safe far too long in many of our blog posts, resulting in little to no interaction and engagement.

    You’ve got to “shake the tree” from time to time to grab attention. Get people fired up. Engage them in conversation that stimulates, motivates – artist Cynthia Peterson is now going to go and paint a landscape painting in response to the article.

    We have nothing against Landscapes, other than they are an easy target for inclusion in an article like the one written. We could have easily inserted Abstracts into the subject line.

    Many people suggested that I may have something personal against landscape artists… please re- read the last paragraph of the article.

    The point of the article was to engage, rattle the cage; see if anyone was listening…

    Finally, for those who suggested that I sounded “elitist”…

    I run an online art gallery. I have the unbelievable pleasure of working 7 days a week, 12 hours per day doing something that I absolutely love – this is my dream job. Working with artists and buyers from all walks of life, from nearly every corner of the globe is, in my view, a God-given gift that I never take for granted – not even for one second.

    I am in love with my job, the artists I have the pleasure of working with every day and the promise of a wonderful future in the art business. I don’t have an elitist bone in my body.

  8. Edward J Payton permalink
    March 9, 2010 11:36 am

    A painting of a twee, predictable landscape is dull and boring, but there are some great artists out there whose landscapes are inspiring and powerful works of art. I have to disagree with the idea that landscapes are old fashioned passed it.

    The excitement comes from how the artist paints, not the subject mater he/she chooses. Even the most mundane object can become a stunning painting if done by the right artist.

    Therefore is it not that landscape painting has become passée, but that there are so many mundane artists around pumping out endless dull pictures?

    Just my two cents!


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