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America the Beautiful

MoranFrom the ancient serenity of the Catskills to the panoramic vistas of the Rocky Mountains, from the majesty of Niagara Falls to the rugged beauty of Southwestern deserts, our country's natural grandeur has provided constant artistic inspiration. Enjoy this exciting armchair tour of the beauty and variety of America's wild and cultivated landscapes!

View the same area in different time periods and media. Painter Alvan Fisher and photographer John Pfahl both depict the Niagara Falls area, but their works stand in sharp contrast. Fisher, a member of the Hudson River School, painted the majesty and roar of the falls, while Pfahl photographed contemporary industry there.

Fisher Pfahl

Alvan Fisher

John Pfahl

Changes of season and their manifestations in the landscape have inspired John Henry Twachtman, Rockwell Kent, Wolf Kahn, and Milton Avery. Norman Lewis uses landscape painting as a vehicle for social commentary.

Modern landscapes by Hans Hofmann and Alma Thomas (shown here) reflect changes in artistic expression and techniques in the twentieth century. Meanwhile, contemporary artists Mark Toby and David Hansen express concern for environmental degradation and loss.

Geography, history, ecology, and art combine to present U.S. landscapes in their pristine majesty as well as their contemporary fragility.



Pictured top: Thomas Moran, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1893–1901, oil, 96 1/2 x 168 3/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of George D. Pratt

Pictured second: Alvan Fisher, A General View of the Falls of Niagara, 1820, oil, 34 3/8 x 48 1/4 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase

Pictured third: John Pfahl, Goodyear #5, Niagara Falls, New York, from the series "Smokes," 1989, color photograph, 20 x 24 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Consolidated Natural Gas Company Foundation

Pictured bottom: Alma Thomas, Red Sunset, Old Pond Concerto, 1972, acrylic, 68 1/2 x 52 1/4 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Woodward Foundation

Luce Center for American Art
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