Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection features over forty paintings by native Southerners and painters who travelled to the Southern states between the 1880s and the 1940s.
These stunning artworks reflect a moment in American art when a strong interest in Impressionism reinvigorated how artists viewed their environment. Expansive landscapes and tender genre scenes became bathed in light. With a loose, painterly style, the artists of Scenic Impressions used bold, high-key colors and a fluidity of form to signal their desire to capture atmospheric transience or a “scenic impression.” They strived to evoke something seen, not to simply transcribe the natural world, and produced artworks unparalleled within the history of Southern painting.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from The Johnson Collection offers insight into a particular period of American art history as borne out in seminal paintings from the holdings of the Johnson Collection of Spartanburg, South Carolina, including some forty paintings created between 1880 and 1940, including landscapes and genre scenes. Artists’ subject matter tended to represent a prosperous middle class at play, with the subtle suggestion that painting was indeed art for art’s sake and not an evocation of the heroic manner. Many painters in the South took up the stylistics of Tonalism, Impressionism, and naturalism to create works of a very evocative nature, works which celebrated the Southern scene as an exotic other, a locale offering refuge from an increasingly mechanized urban environment. Essays written by noted art historians Estill Curtis Pennington and Martha R. Severens discuss the history and import of the Impressionist movement―abroad and domestically―and specifically address the school’s influence on art created in and about the American South. The featured works of art are presented in full color plates and delineated in complementary entries written by Pennington and Severens. Also included are detailed artist biographies illustrated by photographs of the artists, extensive documentation, and indices.