Vast, flat, almost empty expanses of desert plains and highland plateaus are distinctive elements of the Southwestern landscape. Many regional artists attempted to portray this quality of almost infinite space by emphasizing unbroken horizontal lines across their compositions. While more traditional landscape paintings often include clumps of trees on both sides of the canvas to frame the view and create a sense of completeness, the paintings in this gallery dispense with those framing elements to create a sense of incompleteness—a feeling that the scene extends far beyond the frame.
Have you ever taken a snapshot of an awe-inspiring mountain only to find it looking small and insignificant in your picture? How is it possible to capture its size and grandeur in a small image? Paintings in this gallery show how some Southwestern artists met this challenge by crowding the canvas and cropping the view. In some cases, a mountain peak almost grazes the top of the painting, and in others the sheer face of a cliff fills most of the background, leaving only a small patch of sky. These approaches imply that the subject is just too large to fit inside the frame.
Brigham Young University Museum of Art
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