Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
The Gallery’s collection of American landscape painting is exceptional… from the Hudson River School of the early 19th century to this late 20th century work by Fairfield Porter. I’ve long admired Porter as a poet, acclaimed art critic and maverick in art---but not necessarily in that order. A realist painter in an age of abstraction; his work was deeply admired by many of his abstract contemporaries.
The Beginning of the Fields reflects his adherence to familiar subject matter (here a potato field on eastern Long Island) as well as to his painterly interest in color and light, shape, form and brushwork. In this respect, he urged viewers to “remember the subject matter in abstract painting and the abstraction in representational work.”
Here the real subject is light, one of Porter’s primary subjects throughout his career. The salmon, violet, peach and pink coloring of the sky is remarkable. “An extraordinary invention,” according to one critic. And it’s a sky that envelopes trees, turning them into calligraphic script that vitalizes the horizon. The light is hard and flat---and moody. It’s a light that we “feel” as well as “see” The unusual color, the abstracted landscape with its few references to the human presence (a car, small homes and street and property signs) also evoke a sense of loneliness, a sense that caused one writer to refer to Porter as an Edward Hopper with a heart.
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