Sue Scott Gallery

Dreaming the Landscape

Dodie Kazanjian
Vogue Magazine, November 2009

The old classic genres in art won't die.  Over the last six years, Vogue has investigated the continuing vitality of self-portraiture, the nude, and the still life; this time, to complete the series, we asked eleven leading artists to address landscape painting.  The genre's great run in European art, from Claude Lorrain and Poussin to Monet and Cézanne, fell victim the the twentieth century's rage for abstract and conceptual visions.  Although none of our invited artists refused the challenge, several said it was "really hard" and every one of them came up with something that would have perplexed (and maybe even intrigued) Poussin.  Jeff Koons, no surprise, made sex the central motif of his large and opulent image—although you have to look hard to find the happy coupling.  William Wegman, who made his reputation by photographing his Weimaraners in outlandish human dress, claims that landscape painting is "easy", something he does when he's feeling lazy.  Elizabeth Peyton, known for her small, jewellike portraits, says, "I kept going outside and feeling like, God, how do people do this?"  The painter Suzanne McClelland, whose A Heap of Greens was inspired by the late earth artist Robert Smithson, tells me that a lot of the young artists she knows are thinking about "the future of the earth and how we treat the land.  They're using the landscape, looking at it, and working together on gardens."  Landscape, in other words, has evolved from an aesthetic genre to a way of seeing the world.  "Landscape is part of everything." Kristin Baker says.  "if anything can be art, can anything be a landscape?  I'm interested in that idea."  The landscapes on these pages (along with many more by the same artists) will be on view from October 30 through November 15 in the historic rooms at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City...

...Rarely do people get the fact that my work is related to landscape.  Language—speech—is something I work with in almost every piece, and speech exists in a space.  I took the form from a drawing by Robert Smithson called A Heap of Language.  I feel like Smithson's concerns with the land can be brought back into painting.  A Heap of Greens was built out of adjectives I found on a set of stamps that commemorate all the places in the American landscape that the government considers to be the biggest, the longest, the highest, the widest, the deepest.  I found this a very funny idea for stamps, these tiny little objects.  - Suzanne McClelland


To view slide show of works on