nature and art

The tree in the painting

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The tree in the painting, by Zenon Mezinski

Edition Citadelles & Mazenod, September 2018 - 192 Pages

Chis visual history shows the construction and development of a motif that becomes a subject in its own right in Western painting. Whether it is solitary or surrounded by fellow artists, decorated, naked, budding or flowering ..., its representation brings together a number of technical difficulties, a real formal challenge for the artist.
 
A transversal study of the representation of the tree and its theopic and aesthetic implications in the pictorial art of the modern West seems, however, a perilous exercise. A challenge to the art historian! And yet, a successful gamble: a variety of sources allow us here to retrace in a lively way the different practices of the creators through the elaboration of workshop recipes, the diffusion of great models, the practice in the very heart of nature.
The bias of the theme was to approach it through the prism of the artist's gaze. Based on his reflections, the knowledge and visual culture that he brings together, his know-how and its transmission, it will be a question of reconstructing and telling the story of the "making of the tree" in the modern era.
Telling how the tree was "made" under the artists' pencils, questions and informs our own experience of nature. Repetitive, unavoidable, inevitable, familiar, sacred, wild, cultivated, everyday, the tree is from the outset an essential motif in our visual environment. Immediately identifiable, it announces by its very presence that of nature itself. This inspiring nature that painters and poets, as early as the 16th century, apprehend and reconstruct through the landscape.
 
From the representations of wild forests evoking eremitic deserts in the 16th century to the early ecological awareness of the 19th century, the broad spectrum of interpretations of the figure of the tree leads us to question the construction and intensity of our links with the landscape and nature.
We are the heirs of this visual history. The considerable production of images has continuously informed our own world view. Through this journey under the painters' trees, a common, aesthetic and ecological view is developed which, by connecting us to the past, challenges our presence in the world. The awareness of the importance of our tree heritage that continues today finds its roots in these pioneering artists who, with their wallets under their arms, were the first to question the mystery of the tree.
 
This is more than an invitation to a tree-lined walk in the company of 100 artists, from Giotto to Mondrian, but also the first abundantly illustrated synthesis on the subject with a cultural approach to a subject at the heart of our contemporary preoccupations.
 
Zenon Mezinski is a doctor of art history, researcher and teacher. Involved in the associative field, he carries out cultural mediation actions with specific audiences (youth and disability). Combining art history and ecology, he is committed to safeguarding and enhancing the value of our tree heritage. In particular, he co-authored the book Arbres et patrimoine de France with Georges Feterman (Museo éditions, 2015 and 2016).
 

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