Reviews - What do customers think about Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape?
A Fine But Unspectacular Overview Nov 3, 2007
I had been hoping for a comprehensive volume on Durand for years. There are almost always 3 or 4 of his works included in most anthologies of American art of the 19th century and certainly any that focus on the Hudson River School. All acknowledge his importance and I have long admired his majestic forestscapes.
This volume is a comprehensive and historical analysis of his life, art and times. It does disappoint to some degree, due to the inclusion of the numerous portrait paintings of his early career. These are skillful but quite dull in comparison to his landscapes. His brief foray into genre is lackluster as well. This results in a book that really only gains it's raison d' etre at the halfway point. Then it is very enjoyable and gives us what we hoped for; good reproductions of his forest scenes and other landscapes. Like Fredrick Church, he brought a new level of realism and scientific study to the landscape, while still imbuing it with the exalted romanticism that connoted a spiritual essence.
I would have liked more focus on his major works, larger plates or more details and less historical context in this book, but it is still the best existing single source on this important artist.
outstanding and influential early American painter Jun 5, 2007
President of the National Academy of Design from 1845 until his death in 1886, Asher Durand had a major influence on American painting in its early, formative years. Durand's influence with his paintings and his writings and work with other can been as second only to Thomas Cole, who was at different times both mentor and competitor to Durand in his long career. Though Cole has the higher reputation, Durand went further in defining the genre of nature painting in this early era, including the Hudson River School, and articulating and exploring its principles, sources, and aims in his writings. A series of nine essays Durand wrote in 1855 for the art journal Crayon: A Journal Devoted to the Graphic Arts, and the Literature Related to Them" are reprinted in the appendix.
One hundred color illustrations of Durand paintings along with more than 80 black-and-white pictures testify to Durand's exceptional touch melding realism and idealism in the nature painting of the first generation of American painters after the United States became an independent nation. "Kindred Spirits," the book's title, is taken from a familiar 1849 Durand painting of the writer William Cullen Bryant and painter Thomas Cole standing on a rock ledge overlooking a valley with a stream running down it. Not only are the two men meant to be seen as kindred spirits representing the brotherly-like love in the new nation, but the two men are meant as well to be seen as kindred spirits with the nature world spreading out around them like an ampitheater. An 1855 painting titled "The First Harvest in the Wilderness" pictures a man working in a field of golden corn or wheat with misty mountains rising around him. In the background is a log cabin with a woman working at something by its doorway. No matter what the subject and scene of a Durand painting, it bathes in an Edenic glow implying being chosen as one of Providence's favorites and boundless promise.
Mostly before he came to the nature painting, Durand did prints, engravings, and drawings too. Forty of these are pictured. "Kindred Spirits" is a full, authoritative study of the life, career, art work, and influence of this leading early-1800's American artist concentrating on his nature paintings.