British landscapes show brings legendary painters to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

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British landscapes show brings legendary painters to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Flint Castle, 1835. Watercolor with scratching out and sponging out over pencil on paper, 10 7/8 x 15 13/16 in. National Museum Wales (NMW A 1757). Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT.- A rare gathering of stunning British landscape paintings and photographs by legendary artists opened at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on August 29 for a 15-week fall run. The UMFA is one of four exclusive U.S. museums to host The British Passion for Landscape: Masterpieces from National Museum Wales, and the only venue in the western United States.

More than 60 oil and watercolor paintings and photographs, drawn from the remarkable collections of Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales, chart the rise of landscape art in Britain through works from such masters as J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Claude Monet, Thomas Gainsborough and Richard Wilson.

“Not since the UMFA hosted Monet to Picasso from the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2008 have Utah audiences had access to artists of such art historical significance here at home,” says Gretchen Dietrich, UMFA’s executive director. “This exhibition gives Utahns a unique opportunity to experience Turner, Constable and Monet right here in Salt Lake City.”

The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Curators are Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at National Museum Wales.

The British Passion for Landscape begins during the Industrial Revolution and explores the eras of romanticism, impressionism and modernism through the postmodern and post-industrial imagery of today. The work references both the poetry of landscape and the environmental threats posed by industrialism—key themes that persist in British art today and that will resonate with Utah audiences.

“Utah and Great Britain share some unique cultural ties and qualities,” Dietrich says. “Both places are famous for stunning scenery celebrated by many great artists over time, and both know the tensions that can arise between a bucolic and an industrial vision of the land. On a more personal level, many Utahns’ cultural roots are in Britain, so these places and their history will resonate with many in our region.”

Visitors can explore the landscape tradition more deeply, through examples made closer to home, elsewhere in the Museum this fall. Constructing the Utah Landscape, on view concurrently with The British Passion for Landscape, guides visitors of all ages in a hands-on exploration of landscape technique. The interactive exhibition, on view in the UMFA’s Emma Eccles Jones Education Gallery, showcases more than a dozen objects from the UMFA’s Art of Utah and the West collection, including works by Maynard Dixon, LeConte Stewart and V. Douglas Snow.

“Whether you’re an art historian, an artist yourself, or someone who is visiting an art museum for the very first time, you can immerse yourself in truly masterful works of great beauty and emotional depth that will resonate with your own personal experiences of the land around you,” says Luke Kelly, the Museum’s curator of antiquities and the curator in charge of The British Passion for Landscape’s installation in Utah.

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