Eden to Empire: the America of Thomas Cole

Eden to Empire: the America of Thomas Cole

The father of American landscape painting is ready to conquer London with a grand exhibition. Almost 200 years after his voyage through Europe, which left a profound mark on his career, Thomas Cole returns to the British capital with a superb selection of 58 paintings, on display in the remarkable National Gallery along with the works of those Europeans colleagues that the artist admired most: John Constable, William Turner, Claude Lorrain. Not to be missed, The Oxbow (1836), considered Cole’s greatest masterpiece, visiting the United Kingdom for the first time. Epics views, potent natural spectacles, landscapes that stimulate the imagination are presented like windows on the savage territory of the Northeastern United States, just a few decades after they gained their independence. Unusual for the period, the way that Cole looks at the environment - the celebration of the force and beauty of nature goes hand in hand with a preoccupation for its future. The painter from Boston already perceived a threat from political and economic interests. His series The Course of the Empire focuses on this theme, a parable about an imaginary civilisation, from its idyllic roots to the forming of an empire destined to consume itself, leaving only ruin and destination behind. To get an idea of the heritage of Cole’s work across the ocean, it is possible to admire paintings by his most illustrious students, such as Fredric Edwin Church. Or, just a few halls away, there is the answer to The Course of Empire by an icon of American contemporary art, Ed Ruscha, who did ten paintings reinterpreting the original cycle but in the Los Angeles of our times.
Francesca Grego - © 2018 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London