Compass for Surveyors: Nineteenth-Century American Landscapes from LACMA’s Painting and Photography Collections

Installation
Compass for Surveyors: Nineteenth-Century American Landscapes from LACMA’s Painting and Photography Collections
On View:
December 21, 2012–December 31, 2013
Location:
Art of the Americas Building, 3rd Floor

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Compass for Surveyors: Nineteenth-Century American Landscapes from LACMA’s Painting and Photography Collections, a significant and provocative reinstallation of one of the museum’s permanent galleries for American art. It is part of the first re-hang of the American collection since 2007, and will remain on view throughout 2013 while thirty other works from the collection tour Korea as part of a major traveling exhibition.

Curators Austen Bailly and José Luis Blondet organized the new installation at LACMA with a view toward nineteenth-century landscape painting and photography as well as the history of LACMA’s collection. Compass for Surveyors comprises all of the nineteenth-century American landscape paintings in LACMA’s permanent holdings, with the exception of five works traveling to Korea.  A selection of landscape photographs from the same period complements the exhibition, revealing markers of technological progress during the nation’s westward expansion.

Throughout the 1800s, painters and photographers interpreted the swiftly evolving landscape of a nation that was continuously expanding the borders of its western frontier. Yet such landscapes were not candid renderings of what was seen but rather carefully crafted compositions, informed by notions of location and identity. Compass for Surveyors showcases landscapes by artists working on both coasts of a burgeoning territory by presenting Eastern and Western landscapes on opposing gallery walls.