Intriguing Wonders of Landscape Photography Presented in Challenging Terrain: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century

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More than 80 contemporary works on view at the Denver Art Museum present a new perspective on landscape photography

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) proudly presents Challenging Terrain: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century, a survey of contemporary landscape photography from around the world. The exhibition of more than 80 photographs will gauge how living artists stretch the boundaries of traditional landscape photography to reflect the environmental attitudes, perceptions and values of our time. The works in Challenging Terrain will depict landscapes in unexpected ways, challenging visitors to see photography differently. Organized by the DAM and curated by Eric Paddock, curator of photography, Challenging Terrain will be on view June 24, 2018 to Sept. 16, 2018.

Abelardo Morell, Tent Camera Image on Ground: View of Cathedral Rocks from El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, 2012. Inkjet print; 30 x 40 in. Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York. ©Abelardo Morell

Challenging Terrain will give visitors a new look into how contemporary landscape photography practices—occasionally rooted in traditional methods and at other times in new, surprising photographic processes—can create wonder and intrigue,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM. “These photography works are sure to present an unanticipated and captivating visual experience for our visitors.

The landscape photographs in Challenging Terrain, from 2000 to the present day, revives historic processes as well as innovative techniques. While the works featured are exclusively photographic, the exhibition showcases surprising and unusual ways of looking at landscape, spanning from processes using social media to unconventional equipment and chemistry. Taken individually and as a whole, the photographs show how photographers manipulate their materials for expressive purposes, and inspire visitors to consider how we manipulate the world around us for our needs.

“This new, process-dominant photographic work blurs the distinctions between ‘observed’ and ‘constructed’ imagery, between the ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ landscapes, that have shaped photography for the past 50 years,” said Paddock. “Things look very different in photography today. This exhibition will investigate those changes in landscape photography and address current issues through the lenses of nearly 40 artists featured in the exhibition.”

Photographer Matthew Brandt creates intrigue through his highly experimental, site-specific work. Using environmental elements such as sand, lake water and soil, he creates imagery reminiscent of the sites where he stood to make his pictures. Brandt’s works, such as Lake Isabella, will be displayed prominently in the exhibition to create an immersive environment.

Works by other well-known artists, including Cuban-American photographer Abelardo Morell, also will be featured in the exhibition. His works focus on iconic views of America’s national parks made famous by previous generations of photographers, such as Ansel Adams. Morell’s process, rooted in photo history, uses a tent camera to project an image onto the ground that he then photographs digitally, resulting in familiar, yet unexpected works.

The world of digital landscapes shapes the work of artists such as Penelope Umbrico, who uses historic masterworks of photography and simulates traditional film photography mistakes to produce vividly colorful images. Denver photographer Sami Al-Karim uses a unique composite process to recreate imaginary landscapes of vast skies, bodies of water and terrains that he dreamed about during his imprisonment in his Iraqi homeland.

Penelope Umbrico, Adams with Grunge IntensePeach Pop SplitScreen and LightLeak (IMG_6468), from Range: of Masters of Photography, 2014. Chromogenic print; 32 x 40 in. Courtesy David Smith Gallery, CO, Bruce Silverstein, NY and the Artist. ©Penelope Umbrico

Works featured in the exhibition will encourage visitors to contemplate their complex relationship with the landscape and challenge traditional approaches of landscape photography. Challenging Terrain will be on view in the Anschutz and Martin & McCormick galleries in the Hamilton Building on level 2, and will be included in general admission.

Exhibition Sponsors Challenging Terrain: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century is organized by the DAM. It is generously funded by the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight and The Denver Post.

The Denver Art Museum The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.

Image Credit Lines:

Image 1: Abelardo Morell, Tent Camera Image on Ground: View of Cathedral Rocks from El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, 2012. Inkjet print; 30 x 40 in. Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York. ©Abelardo Morell

Image 2: Penelope Umbrico, Adams with Grunge IntensePeach Pop SplitScreen and LightLeak (IMG_6468), from Range: of Masters of Photography, 2014. Chromogenic print; 32 x 40 in. Courtesy David Smith Gallery, CO, Bruce Silverstein, NY and the Artist. ©Penelope Umbrico

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