Ruscha’s ten-painting installation installed at the National Gallery in London reminisce of Thomas Cole’s epic five-painting cycle The Course of Empire (1834-6). The painter acknowledges his inspiration and respect for Thomas Cole. Concerned with the urban landscape of Los Angeles, empty utilitarian structures with no pretension to beauty but redolent of economic success appear left-alone and on the verge of collapse. Similar to Thomas Cole’s paintings, a feeling of melancholy emerge from starring at these abandoned landscapes.
A self-taught artist from Boston, British-born Cole is recognised as the father of landscape painting in the US. The exhibition includes 58 paintings, the majority on loan from North American museums. Cole’s paintings are shown alongside works by British artists with whom he was personally acquainted, as well as those who influenced him most, including William Turner and John Constable. Similar concerns of earth pollution, destruction and changes in the landscape affect these stunningly-accomplished paintings. Highlights include the masterpiece View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm – The Oxbow (1836, MET, NY) on view in the UK for the first time. The exhibition will run until 7 October 2018.