Depictions of the American Landscape

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Although activists often pinpoint its genesis in the 1960s, the environmental movement in the United States has roots in 19th-century American landscape painting. Beginning with the Hudson River School, artists, predominately painters, have depicted the environment as an allusion to such disparate ideologies as manifest destiny, environmental concerns, gendered places, or literary devices. Looking at specific examples from the VMFA’s permanent collection, we will consider works by 19th century painters, including Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, and Frederick Church, 20th century painters, such as Thomas Hart Benton, Winslow Homer, and Childe Hassam, and 21st-century artists, including Sally Mann, Julie Mehretu, and Dean Byington.