DescriptionFROM THE ESTATE OF DR. EDMUND P. PILLSBURY
COLIN BRANT (American, b. 1965)
Fantastic Scenery of the Human Realm, 2001
Oil on canvas
24 x 42 inches (61.0 x 106.7 cm)
Signed, titled and dated on the reverse
Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York, February 2002
Over the past decade, New York City artist Colin Brant has created a body of landscape paintings which rely upon the compositional conventions of 19th-century American landscape painters with one major exception: his settings are pure invention. He constructs his scenes with an attention to detail that recalls the work of 19th century American primitives, a reference that gives them a feeling of nostalgia or time lost. Through the use of sharp perspectives, scenes within scenes, and sharp shifts within depth of field, Brant captures the eccentricities of this tradition. As one writer noted, "There is a stillness to these paintings which invites reverie, and unhurried exploration of his forests, fields, lakes, grottos, and mountains. As viewers, we share in the adventures of travelers as they journey and rest through these pastoral constructions."
In this work which attracted Ted's Pillsbury's eye, the scene is less utopian in feeling than many of Brant's other paintings where figures stroll leisurely in green landscapes near picturesque ponds. This view here is more rugged, with its rocky precipice overlooking a vast sea of trees far below. There are no figures, only a hawk and unwary chipmunk. The sharp spatial divide between foreground and background plane, as well as the use of thin oil glazes and atmospheric blue-greens in the background, recall another sort of primitive--the Flemish artists in the realm of Brueghel. In the New York Observer (May 3, 2004), Mario Naves suggested another "kindred spirit" for Brant: "As a stylist, Mr. Brant knows his stuff. His work's keening light is pure Hudson River School theater, and the compositions (darkened foregrounds set against distant, sparkling vistas) parody pictorial formula. . . [But] you'll note how their gentle mockery is a form of love: Mr. Brant's brand of irony precludes condescension or distaste. He's a far cry from a cynical operator like John Currin. Mr. Brant is closer in temperament to a genuine oddball like Louis Eilshemius." Interestingly, Ted was a fan both of Currin and of Eilshemius. Perhaps uncoincidentally, a fine exhibition of Eilshemius' work was on view at the National Academy of Design in New York just a couple months before Ted purchased this painting by Brant.
Condition report available upon request.
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2017 October 13 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas