Eight landscapes by George Inness given to the Clark by Frank and Katherine Martucci will go on display June 9 with two Inness paintings collected by the museum’s founders. The exhibition examines the artist’s late work when Inness had moved away from plein-air painting and naturalistic portrayals of landscapes towards a more conceptual approach to capturing mood and the actions of light and shadow.
“The focused nature of this collection of ten works is an ideal way in which to consider George Inness at a point in his career in which his personal beliefs were imbuing his artistry in fascinating ways,” says Michael Conforti, director of the Clark.
Wanting to do more than simply mirror and record nature, Inness developed an approach that blended realism with a visionary expression of spiritual meaning. He experimented with color, composition, and painterly technique to present a vision of the natural world beyond its physical appearance.
Grounded in reality, many of the works were inspired by the countryside near the artist’s home in Montclair, New Jersey. Yet in them Inness sought to go beyond the limits of appearance to express the spiritual essence of the natural world. In Home at Montclair, Inness used thinly applied paint to capture a balance between naturalism and abstraction. Various painterly techniques—quick touches of the brush, areas of pigment wiped with a rag, and scoring wet paint with the reverse end of the artist’s brush—soften the contours of New Jersey Landscape. This blurring of forms evokes a sense of the metaphysical quality of the natural world.
George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci, is on view at the Clark June 9 through September 8.