Unframed - Hudson River School

An Artist's Response to Thomas Cole
January 23, 2015

Artist Elena Dorfman has been photographing the Los Angeles River of late. We invited her to participate in our Artists Respond series, creating an image inspired by an exhibition at LACMA.  Elena chose Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School, now on view through June 7, 2015, as her point of departure, and, in particular, Thomas Cole’s painting The Savage State, part of his five-part series, The Course of Empire. The paintings, made between 1833 and 1836, chronicle the rise and fall of an imaginary city, and serve as an allegory for the cyclical progression of civilization from a state of barbarism through advanced social and cultural development, and eventual descent into ruin.

Elena's response to the painting took the form of the photograph, Bell Avenue, 2014, from her series LA, River.