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George Woodman’s early 1960s landscape paintings: From the Archives…

George Woodman’s paintings of the early 1960s built upon a dialogue with modernists from Cézanne (an early and important influence) to Diebenkorn. The color green was prevalent, even as his technique evolved from expressionist representations to abstracted views of the landscape which were more topographic, resembling maps.

A year spent in Italy from 1959-60 clarified his understanding and approach: “I had been living in New Mexico, and then came to Colorado, and I had tried to paint the landscape, but I was never satisfied,” he recounted nearly 40 years later. “The landscape in Italy is not the same. Italy is not a natural object. The earth is shaped. The hillsides are terraced…I painted many more Italian landscapes in Boulder than I ever did in Italy."

In a statement about these works from 1962, using the poem The Garden by Andrew Marvell as a starting point, Woodman wrote:

“'Annihilating all thats made to a green thought in a green shade’ these landscapes seek to provide a congenial environment for the eye, the mind, the imagination.

When alienation and estrangement from our world is a common experience, there is a place for images which present an accessible and congenial environment for man. Therefore, landscape is a humanistic art, as well as being romantic in the Wordsworthian sense of seeking values in nature. Unlike much contemporary landscape painting, the character of form in these images is dictated neither by a process of abstraction from nature nor by an imposition of decorative order upon her. Rather the forms and colors are presented as metaphors, as direct sensory analogies, of concrete experiences with the environment."

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