Landscape: a multidisciplinary ecotone in contemporary art

Landscape is a term used in several subjects nowadays. Its positive social value implies that this term may be applied as a lifeline, both to slang and more technical scientific languages. Several sciences have incorporated this word into their corpus of knowledge and even they contribute with a new definition of it. So, the landscape is found, for example, in Geography; in Ecology, creating Landscape Ecology; in Botany, developing Geobotany or Science of Plants Landscape.

These days, the picturesque sense of landscape seems to be obsolete. After deep social, economic, scientific and artistic changes which have taken place since the second half of the XX century, it is interesting to do a research about artistsí work methods, and also about how they consider this renewed concept of landscape.

Hence, landscape behaves as an ecotone, as an area of mixing influences, tendencies and knowledge. The term ecotone comes from the ecological science. It refers to the mixture, the crossbreeding of different ecosystems which meet in a common area, enriching this concrete area with species and processes of the converged systems. Etymologically, this term comes from the Greek (eco: home + tone: tension), and it refers to the adjacent area of two clearly differentiated systems. We have taken the concept ecotone from the ecological science, specifically from the Landscape Ecology, because we consider that it satisfactorily fits to the guiding idea of this research: to see art hybridization with other subjects and ideologies in that area called landscape.

Apart from the aesthetic sense, the visual creator of the landscape puts into practice new points of view and approaches taken from other scientific subjects. Many artists go beyond which is merely descriptive to create and take sides on works with an important ideological content of social and environmental political activity.

The newness of this topic lies in two essential ideas: on the one hand the multidisciplinary approach from the artists (which go beyond a traditional point of view of the arts based on painting, sculpture, etc.) based on the contents of the Natural an Social Sciences; on the other hand, the current issues of the work to analyze, being restricted to XXI century. It is, therefore, a very recent work; a work which is still hard to find in books of Art and Art History, but it is present in art galleries and contemporary art museums. A recent work deserving of an analysis that show the new tendencies and motivations of the XXI century artists on the subject of landscape.

Throughout this research it has been studied the work of many current artists, being chosen 273 authors who work the landscape in the XXI century. The final number of authors presented in this thesis up to 191. Every mentioned author works the landscape in this point of junction between Art and some social or natural sciences. This does not mean that all the landscape of the XXI century is worked from this ecotone or hybrid point of view, but we have chosen those authors that fit better to this research matter, to highlight that the artistic landscape in the XXI century, apart from artistic connotation, may include social, political or environmental connotations.

Finally, all the artists and their work have been grouped in several categories that connect the landscape to Human Geography, Urban Geography, Physical Geography, travels, Geology, Botany, Zoology and environmentalist-conservationist movements.

Year 2009
Type Thesis
Institution Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
Degree PhD
Supervisor(s) Dr.D. Pedro L. Esteban Fernández
Language Español
Field Art and Humanities - Painting