Anna Jóhannsdóttir: Caught at Work. On Painting as a Temporal/Spatial Point of Contact
The modernist emphasis on the visibility of brushwork in painting reflects the artist’s being in the world and it evokes a special kind of spectator perception. The emphasis on the picture’s painted surface may be traced to developments in 19th Century landscape painting. A certain paradox is entailed in the view that the genre of landscape painting declined during the rise of modernism in 20th Century art. In fact, closer observation reveals that landscape painting is a fertile ground for inquiry into the crucible of modernism in painting. The analysis in this paper of modernist aspects of works by Jackson Pollock, Paul Cézanne and Svavar Guðnason, and the significance of these aspects for painter and spectator, connects with art historical writings on technical developments in painting, especially in landscape and nature-based works. Drawing in particular on the writings of art historian Charles Harrison about the link between modernism and modern landcape painting and his analysis of the dialectic relationship between effects and effectiveness, painting and picture, the article focuses on the spectator’s perspective and her/his possibilities in approaching the artwork as a spatial and temporal field of activity.
Keywords: Modernism, painting, landscape, body, deixis