Painting Horizons

Nicolai Cikovsky (American, born Russia, 1894-1984) Summer Scene, ca. 1950, Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 40 1/8 inches. Parrish Art Museum, Gift of Professor Matthew and Mrs. Roslyn Besdine, 1979.12.1.
Painting Horizons
Permanent Collection Exhibition
November 8, 2014 to October 25, 2015

Put simply, the horizon is that line that defines the separation between land or ocean and the sky. If you stand on the beach and look out to sea, scientists tell us that you can, if the day is clear and you are of average height, see about three miles into the distance. In paintings, the artist creates a visual horizon line to establish a painting's perspective. Each painting on view in this gallery has been selected to reflect this eye-level view, inviting us to share in the artist's unique vision.

Jane Wilson's painting has been influenced by her childhood spent growing up in the flat-wide open spaces of the Midwest but the East End of Long Island, her part-time home since the mid-1950s has also had a lasting effect. The proximity of the ocean and the resulting mutable weather of the region keep the air in her works alive with possibilities. Robert Dash painted and gardened on the East End for over fifty years and looked no farther than his Sagaponack surroundings to create forceful statements about the landscape. Evening Blow captures the feeling of the wind as it daily rolls in off the ocean up Sagg Main Street past Foster's Farm. Nicolai Cikovsky and Sheridan Lord take artistic license to imaginatively tilt the landscape to reveal the furrows of the farmland on Eastern Long Island. The radiant canvases of April Gornik evoke the paintings of the German Romantics and the American Luminists—artistic forerunners who made the light on the distant horizon the prime focus of their work. In Julia Oschatz's murky landscape, a hapless "everyman" stands in the foreground while a brilliant blue lagoon defines the horizon.

Each summer Fairfield Porter and his family traveled from their Southampton home to Great Spruce Head Island on Maine's Penobscot Bay. He often set up his easel on a high vantage point, looking out over the water. At other times, he would focus on a patch of ground at his feet, forcing the horizon line to the very top of the canvas, as in South Meadow from the Beach. A well-known art critic as well as an extraordinary painter, Porter once observed: "There is that elementary principle of organization in any art that nothing gets in anything else's way and everything is at its own limit of possibilities." We sense that Porter speaks about his own work here but, indeed, all the paintings from the Parrish's permanent collection on display in this gallery convey that same sense of completeness in their depictions of land, sea, and sky.

The Permanent Collection 2015. Art. Illuminated. is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Maren Otto, the Joseph and Sylvia Slifka Foundation, Suzanne and Bob Cochran, Linda and Gregory Fischbach, Christopher Harland and Ashley Leeds, Calvin Klein Family Foundation, Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, and Galerie Lelong. The Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.