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Installation view of Landscape at the Millennium: Installations by Tobi Kahn and Pat Steir; Nineteenth-Century Paintings from the Parrish Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photograph by Tom Loonan. 

Landscape at the Millennium: Installations by Tobi Kahn and Pat Steir; Nineteenth-Century Paintings from the Parrish Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Saturday, November 20, 1999
Sunday, January 2, 2000

1905 Building

Landscape at the Millennium combined 19th century landscape paintings from the collections of the Albright-Knox and the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, with two contemporary installations by painters Tobi Kahn and Pat Steir. This exhibition provided a context for addressing the representation of the landscape over the past 100 years, the ways in which our perception of it has changed, and the implications—philosophical, social, and cultural—of such changes.

During the 19th century, the landscape occupied a prominent place in the nation’s collective consciousness, signifying, on the one hand, and endless frontier, awesome and sublime, and on the other hand, a more bucolic and intimate terrain. Installations by Kahn and Steir, inspired by aspects of the landscape, take a more subjective approach to its representation.

Installation view of Tobi Kahn's work in Landscape at the Millennium: Installations by Toby Kahn and Pat Steir; Nineteenth-Century Paintings from the Parrish Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photograph by Tom Loonan. 

Installation view of Pat Steir's work in Landscape at the Millennium: Installations by Toby Kahn and Pat Steir; Nineteenth-Century Paintings from the Parrish Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photograph by Tom Loonan. 

Distinguished by reductive designs and subtle modulations of surface texture, Kahn’s paintings oscillate between representation and abstraction. While his subject matter can easily be identified as landscape and seascape, the actual images are more suggestive, as natural phenomena are transformed through imagination and memory.

Steir’s depiction of natural phenomena, like Kahn’s, is based on equivalence, implied but never overt. Whereas Kahn’s images suggest a meditative serenity, Steir’s tend to explore more expressionistic dimensions. Since the mid-1980s, Steir has drawn inspiration from waterfalls and waves, creating monumental, abstract analogues for these chaotic forces in the form of paintings directly on the wall.

The addition of photographer John Pfahl's Permutations on the Picturesque, 1993–97, gives the project another dimension by introducing photographic images of picturesque landscapes based on 19th-century prototypes that Pfahl subtly manipulated in the computer and Iris printed with watercolor inks on Wattman paper.

Landscape at the Millennium was accompanied by an illustrated brochure that included interviews with Kahn and Steir, and quotations on landscape painting by 19th century painters.

A panel discussion entitled “Points of View” was held in conjunction with this exhibition on November 21 to discuss the ways our perception of landscape has evolved over the past 100 years. The panel featured Inka Essenhigh, Tobi Kahn, Pat Steir, and Linda Schneekloth, moderated by Curator Douglas Dreishpoon.

This exhibition was organized by Curator Douglas Dreishpoon.

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