As the temperatures drop, what better time is there to enjoy the landscape from inside a warm, welcoming art gallery?
The Susquehanna Art Museum is playing host to two very different perspectives of the art of the landscape; one from the most well-known and influential American photographer, the other from a talented painter with Central Pennsylvania ties.
Ansel Adams (1902–1984) was a giant in the field of landscape photography. He was able to capture the majesty of the American West, creating iconic imagery and some of the most recognizable art of the 20th century.
“Ansel Adams: Early Works” brings to Harrisburg a collection of silver gelatin prints that start with Adams’ beginnings in 1923 with his “Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras” when his photographic style with soft focus and warm tones was more akin to the landscape painters of the 19th century.
This painterly style, known as Pictorialism, was popular among photographers of the period, and a style that Adams would soon abandon. In fact, only one image from this period would he re-print into the 1970s. “A Grove of Tamarack Pine,” is an idyllic forest scene, looking more like a book illustration than the striking photographs for which he will become known.
Moving into the 1930s and 1940s, Adams’ art shifted focus and technique to capture the grandeur of the American West. It is this period for which he is most well-known. His experiments with scale produced images capturing both the beauty and the drama of the unspoiled wilderness.
Adams became associated with a style called “straight” or “pure” photography, where he attempted to depict a scene as objectively as possible. In “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome,” a print from 1927 hangs next to the re-printed version from the 1950s. In it his technical darkroom work made it a more detailed and realistic photograph.
Many of Ansel Adams’ celebrated images are included in “Early Works” including “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” and “Aspens, Northern New Mexico,” which demonstrate why he is recognized as one of finest photographers of this unspoiled landscape.
“Ansel Adams: Early Works” is organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions LLC. All photographs included in the exhibit are from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. “Ansel Adams: Early Works” is presented with the sponsorship of Commonwealth Charter Academy and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. The exhibit is on view through Jan. 21 in the second floor main gallery of the museum.
In the first floor gallery of the Susquehanna Art Museum, the oil paintings of Robert Andriulli, take another approach to the landscape as he captures both rural and urban perspectives. Andriulli was a professor of art at Millersville University for 27 years, before retiring in 2017.
In “Memory and Invention: Robert Andriulli,” landscapes created from both direct observations and studio elaborations portray a painterly realism that depicts both a fidelity to subject and an uncommon personal visual style. The works in this exhibit represent his interest in responding to the various forms and light of nature and in juxtapositions of natural landscapes and the urban environment.
Like Adams, several of Andriulli’s paintings, have captured the beauty of nature while at the same time communicating its untamed qualities. “First Beach, La Push, Washington” shows the felled trees along the shore. Their jagged edges in the foreground contrasts against the Pacific skies and shoreline.
In the same vein, “Coast Near Mendocino, California” shows the waves crashing against the rocks as stormy skies loom overhead.
As he turns his focus to the urban landscape, Andriulli creates depth through the layers of his landscapes. “Urban Tiers III” begins with the rows of suburban rooftops in the foreground, which leads to the smokestacks of the neighboring factories as the urban skyscrapers loom in the distance.
The break in the smoke in “Mill Fire” frames the scene like a porthole, looking at the flames shooting from the scene as again the foreground is filled with structure upon structure of the working class community.
Andriulli is able to expertly adapt his painting style within the differing landscapes. The urban themed works are very architectural and geometric while the natural landscapes show both the hard and soft that exists within nature. He merges both perspectives in paintings such as “Silk City Waterfall” as the city’s edge meets one of nature’s most marvelous features, creating a spectacular synthesis.
“Memory and Invention: Robert Andriulli” is on display in the first floor gallery of the Susquehanna Art Museum until Feb. 11.
Both approaches to capturing the landscape express the unique visions and techniques of both men. From the grandeur of the undeveloped wilds to the urban wilderness; land to sky, there is beauty to be discovered inside the Susquehanna Art Museum.
The Susquehanna Art Museum is located at 1401 N. Third St., Harrisburg. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $8, $5 for teachers, seniors and veterans; and free for children younger than 12. Free parking is available at the rear of the building. For additional information on the museum and exhibitions visit their website at www.SusquehannaArtMuseum.org.
Joseph George holds a degree in history and art history from Dickinson College. He and his wife, Barrie Ann have spent much of their 25 years together traveling and visiting art galleries locally and throughout the world. They have been writing about the local art scene for five years. Their tastes range from fine art to street art.