Thomas Cole: A Conservative Conservationist

Jennifer Kabat at the NYRB:

Every era gets its own Thomas Cole, the British-born, nineteenth-century artist who ushered in a new age of American landscape painting. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was a precursor to artists like Grant Wood. Come the 1960s and 1970s, MoMA linked his brushwork to abstract expressionism. In the late 1980s, he was part of a Reaganesque “Morning in America” campaign, a Chrysler-sponsored survey of American landscape paintings at the Met. Now, also at the Met, “Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings” positions Cole as a challenge to Trumpian greed, as well as to the American landscape as imagined by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and EPA chief Scott Pruitt. But while Cole was undoubtedly concerned with the land he painted, he was not exactly the convenient social critic the Met portrays.

more here.

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