An Exhibition of Photographs and Paintings on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's Sail of Discovery
Samuel Colman (1832-1920)
Jon R. Friedman
Joseph Antonio Hekking (1830- 1903)
William Rickarby Miller (1815-1893)
Robert J. Pattison (1838-1903)
Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889)
As part of the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's sail of discovery, we offer, Seeing the Hudson, a major exhibition of paintings and photographs, which show the river over a period of more than 200 years, from its source in the Adirondacks, to its mouth, 315 miles away in Upper New York Bay. Our show begins with work by the 19th century painters of the Hudson River School, arguably the first American art movement, and continues through more contemporary painting and photographs. The exhibition demonstrates the variety of faces that the River presents. And, of course, the work we have selected reflects the vision of the individual artists, who are constantly filtering perception, and coping with the intrinsic characteristics of their media to determine what makes it into the frame, and how those images appear.
In general, 19th century Hudson River School painters saw the River as an almost holy, pristine, primeval landscape, where settlers (if present at all) lived in harmony with an all powerful "Nature". Photographers (partially due to the nature of their medium) were more interested in the real than the ideal. To them, the profound effect of the "hand of man" on the environment is what gave proof of man's dominion over Nature, and was itself a source of pride for a developing nation. Of course, in more recent times, man's impact on the environment has engendered a more negative judgment. Irony and severe criticism have become part of the view as a spur to environmental action by those who love the River and want to protect, defend, and restore it. All these motivations find form in our exhibition.
The river is where the choices begin, but it is in the variety of visions on display here where the truth about the Hudson as a place and as an idea ultimately emerges.
Some artists featured in the exhibition include:
William Clift is an acknowledged master landscape photographer. His large format negatives and flawless prints are intense reminders of the detail possible in an objective photographic record, but the singularity of his vision is pure artistry.
Susan Wides, by contrast, subverts the focus and perspective controls of that large format camera to create her own deconstructed dreamlike dioramas.
Carolyn Marks Blackwood photographs ice breaking up on the Hudson. These dramatic abstract, photographs look violent and dangerous. They are fixated on the sheets of ice which are thrown into constant motion due to the torsion created by the river's current coming from the north, colliding with the tidal pressure coming from the south which literally shatters the ice and tears it apart.
Jan Staller photographs borders between things: the places where New York meets its Hudson River border. They are bathed in the light that separates day from the night - the last blue rays of skylight being superseded by the sallow glow of sodium vapor. The spaces become eerily haunting.
This year, the many 400th Anniversary events, the court-ordered clean-up of the Hudson, the relatively recent opening of Dia Beacon, and New York City's active program to construct parks, bike paths and recreational parks all along its Hudson waterfront have focused long overdue attention on the Hudson. The Hudson is one of the last great places, where nature still predominates and inspires all those with eyes and hands who create images, such as the artists featured in our exhibition, to revel in its presence, and help us to keep Seeing the Hudson anew.