Landscape is one of my favorite genres of painting and, for me, it comes in many forms. I do not distinguish between “abstraction” and “realism” as far as their power to render a scene or evoke memories or response. I have painted both ways, and  feel that all my abstract paintings were the evocation of particular landscapes at specific moments.  I see abstraction as a way to find a corollary (objective correlative) to the multi-sensual experience of light, space, form, tone, color that makes up the physical world. The brain creates a reference for all symbols, and it does so in the only framework it is programmed to to use associatively, i.e. the physical world. For me, it’s all about how to transmit and evoke the maximum amount of information that provokes an interactive experience.. There are many ways to skin that cat. I will talk later in another post about the way we actually see and the phenomenology of perception. (Basically what we we think of as hyper realism is not the way we actually see, but a very “abstract” manipulation of “reality.” ) Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these landscapes and that by looking at these kinds of pairings together you get a sense of why I feel them both to be equally evocative.

Arshile Gorky                                        Winslow Homer

Rembrandt van Rijin                     Jackson Pollock

Helen Frankenthaler                  Paul Signac

Jean-Baptiste Corot                                   Per Kirkiby

Hans Hoffman                        J.M.W. Turner

Jacob Van Ruisdael                         Clyfford Still

Juan Miro                                                      Claude Monet

Claude Monet                                                Adolphe Gottlieb

John Constable                             Richard Diebenkorn

Helen Frankenthaler                                       Alan Whiting

David Leeds                                       J.M.W. Turner

Winslow Homer                                   Richard Diebenkorn

I’d like to hear your reactions to these different approaches to “landscape,”
and which you prefer.


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  1. kathy says:

    The pairings of the realistic landscapes with the abstracts you chose, are beautiful. It really shows how these abstracts can evoke the landscape in such a dreamy, non-specific sort of way. It makes me look at them with a very different view then I ever have before.

  2. Philip says:

    Landscape is about the essence of what you see and experience. I was looking at a plant in my bay window today ;odd leaves of which were which was being touched/ showered with sunlight. i did not know if i could capture that as it seemd almost unreal.

  3. kathy says:

    As for which I prefer, in the “realistic” landscapes, I prefer the less specific – probably the Turner I find the most powerful. If a landscape is too place specific, it doesn’t allow to me to fall into the painting in the same way. And like Philip said, it’s hard to capture an exact replication of nature, that’s better than the real thing.

  4. GERT ILLIG says:

    Turner is one of my favourite painter artists , but he is not a painter of landscapes ( you better had chosen Constable , if an english painter was choosen ) . Turner is a painter of elements , of nature in general ;whereas the landscape is only a part of nature .

    • David Leeds says:

      I did include a Constable, as he is one of my favorite painters. Most definitions of landscape that I have found coalesce around “a depiction of natural scenery.”
      However, the word itself does come from the Dutch, which more literally meant ‘ a patch of cultivated ground. So literally speaking, you have cause. ” Seascapes” and, in fact, all renderings of the natural world are broadly considered, “landscapes.” This was my understanding, at least, while I studied Art History. I’m having a little trouble with the distinction between elements of nature vs the broader term. Can you point me to some writing on this. I appreciate your comment and love of Turner, whom I think is one of the best to ever pick up a brush.

  5. i think turner is the right choice for this, it shows the vast range of landscapes. from different artist. i love turner.he is one of my favorites, also seeing him with jackson pollack is opening my eyes to the beauty one can show in a landscape. i now love landscapes when i really didnt care for them before. thank you for posting things and opening up a realm. its like looking at landscapes in a new way.

  6. Claire Wright says:

    I like the ideas around the phenomenology of perception, and the idea that abstraction is an attempt to convey the internal subjective experience of place…. it’d be interesting to know more about the science of perception..
    there are a few painters here that I haven’t heard of and like; Peter Kirkiby, for example. Adolph Gottlieb reminds me of the St. Ives painter, Terry Frost’s paintings of circles/suns.
    It’d be great to see some more little landscape galleries like this one… – how about the english ruralists? – Ivon Hitchens, Graham Sutherland’s sketches of Wales, Eric Ravilious, John Piper… but I think they all took their inspiration from Samuel Palmer, who was the first to rekindle the poetic imagination in the genre again.. (I think)

    • David Leeds says:

      I like your idea of more landscape galleries very much, and I think I will put them up around common themes, motifs, etc. somewhat regularly. Thanks for that. I will also check out some of the other English painters you mentioned, few of whom I know. I appreciate your input.

  7. Clare says:

    What a beautiful choice of paintings. Thank you for posting these – introducing me to some artists I didn’t know.

  8. david when i looked at these before i was amazed at the flow of beauty,with out looking at the names of the artist. then i noticed yours was right there with all the the other masters.fitting in just as beautifully. i keep going back to it . thanks david its very inspiring

  9. metscan says:

    Art, being only one of my interests, does not make me competent to compare these paintings objectively. Ok, I can visit the museums and find liking the work of old masters, or the modern paintings likewise. Or – I can dislike both – equally.
    However, since you asked for opinions, the modern ones of the presented, are definitely more pleasing to my taste.
    I have mentioned every now and then in my own blog, that I prefer imperfectness. The modern paintings here, fill this criteria of mine.

  10. i once read a statement by van gogh that there was only beauty in inperfection

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Sculptor, painter, poet. Currently living in Los Angeles and Martha's Vineyard