Magazine article Artforum International

Alice Stepanek/Steven Maslin

Magazine article Artforum International

Alice Stepanek/Steven Maslin

Article excerpt

JOHNEN & SCHOTTLE

In a series of 13 small, square pictures of trees, Alice Stepanek and Steven Maslin depict the transformation of tree branches from one season to another: without leaves, with buds, with leaves, with autumn foliage, and again without leaves. They have been painting landscapes exclusively for years now, directly from nature. Also included in this exhibition was a large, rectangular painting that showed the summer foliage of a tree, with a green shimmering surface.

We are all too familiar with landscape painting from art history--but what place might it occupy in contemporary art? Once the artist was believed to be able to experience the sublime in nature; but nature has since become something low, amorphous, and profane that should be overcome in abstraction. In much postwar painting, the sublime is sought through abstract forms and colors. In an age in which we are largely concerned with our relationship to the commodity, nature appears seldom in art, and never for its own sake. …

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