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Art Historian to Discuss American Landscapes, Environment

Monday, November 11, 2002

SPARTANBURG, SC—University of Georgia art historian Janice Simon will discuss American landscapes, religion and the history of environmental concerns in the United States during a talk on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Wofford College.

The program will be at 8 p.m. in the Olin Theater in the Franklin W. Olin Building. It is free and open to the public.

Simon’s talk, “From the Sacred Forest to the Secular Clear-Cut: An Artistic Tale,” discusses the poetry of William Cullen Bryant and landscape painter Asher B. Durand.

Inspired by the poetry of Bryant, Durand “visually canonized the American primeval forest as a sacred cathedral in his ‘In the Woods’ of 1855,” Simon says. “Already in the 19th century, however, rapacious clear-cutting of the Adirondacks and other wilderness areas contradicted this idealizing image. Artists south to acknowledge the devastation wrought on American forests, but had to find a way to do so without offending high-art values.

“In arriving at a solution to this problem, an artistic tale unfolds,” she continues, “a story featuring not only famous writers and artists like Bryant and Durand, but also illustrators for popular magazines of the time, and importantly, the tonalist painter, Alexander Wyant, who offered a unique solution.”