OMNP strives to show the importance of Old Masters by underscoring their resonance today. In doing so, OMNP will regularly profile a Contemporary artist who has been directly influenced by the work of Old Masters. This week’s artist is Kim Keever, a New York based artist whose photographs draw from the sublime qualities of landscape paintings by the Hudson River School.
On a basic level, Kim Keever’s work can be looked at as eye candy. A viewer can enjoy his sensuous landscapes as a modern day tribute to the genre once popularized by the Hudson River School during the 19th century. Put Keever’s “Sunset 44d” next to Frederic Edwin Church’s “Twilight in the Wilderness,” and it’s hard to initially separate the differences. Keever’s evocative landscapes, and deep, murky hues could be seen as recalling the Edwin Burke’s archetype of the “sublime” wilderness that was championed by the great Romantic artists on both sides the pond.
All of these factors add up to one cute package that is incredibly viable to collectors. This is a contemporary interpretation of a classical archetype of painting with crossover appeal. His photographs mesh well with any type of interior decor/art collection, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that the prices for this guy’s work will increase about ten-fold in the next decade.
What elevates Keever’s work, however, are the eerie and subversive qualities that a viewer finds after looking at his pictures for a little longer. Part of this feeling comes through understanding Keever’s process, of which he makes very clear. These are dioramas that have been constructed inside large fish tanks, and photographed to appear as large-scale landscapes. Once a viewer gets over the amazement of how he was able to create all all of the atmospheric effects (very Turnerian), they are left with an uncomfortable sense of artificiality. One feels bewildered by the idea of such transcendental beauty being reduced to something that can be methodically constructed.
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