This Land: American Landscapes from GRAM’s Collection

Dec 7, 2021 — Mar 23, 2022
Level 3, Gallery 3

Landscapes have always played a significant role in American art.

Landscapes have always played a significant role in American art. As a young nation, American artists borrowed the styles and conventions of European and British art. Over time however, uniquely American styles developed based in the distinctive and varied environments of the United States. This exhibition of American landscapes from GRAM’s collection illustrates the numerous styles that emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The works on view in this gallery depict scenes from New England to the California coast, primarily in painting, but also etching and early photography.

Landscape painting dominated American art in the early 19th century with idealized images of a vast, unspoiled wilderness that reflected how America’s national identity and belief in its boundless prospects was deeply interwoven with its natural environment. This imagery upheld the conviction that American settler colonists were entitled to conquer and control the expansive lands of North America, as most artists of the time purposefully overlooked the Indigenous peoples who called these territories home. On the surface, landscapes celebrate the beauty of nature, but they can also illustrate the complex and often violent history of America. 

There is no single story of the American landscape. Note whose perspectives, experiences, and cultures are visible and represented in the works of art and whose stories are left out or marginalized. What more might we need to discover to tell the story of this land?