June 18, 2015 - Neue Galerie Graz – Universalmuseum Joanneum - Landscape: Transformation of an Idea
June 18, 2015

Landscape: Transformation of an Idea

Franc Novinc, Morning, 1971. Photo: N. Lackner/UMJ.

Landscape: Transformation of an Idea
Art from 1800 to the Present Day from the Collection of the Neue Galerie Graz
June 19–September 6, 2015

Neue Galerie Graz
8010 Graz
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm

T +43 316/8017 9100
joanneumsviertel [​at​] museum-joanneum.at


The term “landscape” can be understood in many different ways—both inside and outside of artistic discourse. It can refer to the real living environment of a person or to an area visited by tourists or utilised for tourism. It can refer to land researched within different disciplines, or to land which is changed or used for various purposes. 

“Landscape” can define a place with strong emotional and political connotations. All these functional connections have led to different images and manifestations—artistic landscape painting is only one of many approaches. 

For this reason, our exhibition does not aim to provide a stylistic overview of the history of landscape painting for the period represented by the Neue Galerie Graz collection, which stretches from 1800 to the present day. The aim of this exhibition is a far broader one, as it attempts to use exhibits from the collection to visualise the complex interactions between the depiction of landscape and the perception and understanding of nature and reality. To this end, two time periods, around one hundred years apart and seemingly unconnected, are placed in relation to one another. These two periods are the first half of the 19th century and the period from around 1960 to today. This juxtaposition reveals not only differences but also surprising parallels between the two epochs.

In the 19th century, scientific and artistic images of nature connected in far more diverse ways than was previously the case. This process has continued to densify and specialise ever since. For example, the construction of railways in the early 19th century, the satellite measurement of the earth (GPS) in the 20th century and the images that resulted (e. g. the series of lithographs Railway Suite by Joseph Kuwasseg and Google Earth) show how new technology changes both the function and the images of the landscape. Landscape always represents the symbolic entity of nature as well as cultural patterns of appropriation. Its depiction is the result of a diverse network of knowledge from the respective epoch. Technical media—photography, film, video and computers—have helped to represent nature in a documentary and scientific manner, contributing to a change in reality. All this reveals that nature and landscape are constructions of reality: a map does not portray a country but rather constructs it. Within the period of time thematised in this exhibition, art reveals itself to be an analytic structure of the constructed reality. 

Showing selected works from the 19th century, the first part of the exhibition focuses on topics such as mapping the landscape, ideologisation of the landscape, idealisation of the Alps, autonomous nature, images of the far-off between ideal and reality, geological research and visual representation (Thomas Ender, Friedrich Gauermann, Johann Kniep, Joseph Kuwasseg, Markus Pernhart, Joseph Selleny, Franz Steinfeld, Georg Matthäus Vischer, among others). 

In the second part, works from the 20th and 21st century provide insight into diverse fields of artistic research: travel as concept, the influence of Land Art, landscape as text, landscape as social construction, landscape in 3D, painting between abstraction and realism (Rosa Barba, Herbert Brandl, Christo, Peter Fend, Hamish Fulton, Jochen Gerz, Haus-Rucker-Co, Richard Kriesche, Petra Maitz, Alois Mosbacher, Walter Niedermayr, Franc Novinc, Max Peintner, Ed Ruscha, Paul Virilio, Peter Weibel, Erwin Wurm among others).

Curated by Gudrun Danzer and Günther Holler-Schuster

In the framework of the exhibition two further artists are given special attention: British photographer Darren Almond shows his Amalfi Sketchbook (2014), with black-and-white photographs based on drawings of South Italian landscapes that Carl Blechen had created in 1830 (curated by Peter Pakesch). Austrian artist Wolfgang Temmel produced a cycle of North Korean Landscapes (2012)—landscapes that in reality are inaccessible to ordinary tourists—by using satellite images of Google Earth and transforming them into acrylic paintings (curated by Günther Holler-Schuster).

Neue Galerie Graz – Universalmuseum Joanneum
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