Reality and Fantasy: Land, Town and Sea

December 18, 2013—June 15, 2014
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Location: Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery P13

This exhibition contains 23 European works from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, as part of a series of rotations from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's extensive collection of more than 6,000 works on paper.

Landscapes, whether urban or rural, are often thought to be a record of what an artist actually saw but in many cases they are partly or wholly fantasy. One of the reasons for this is that slavish observation of nature was thought to be less creative than the use of imagination and artists were especially admired for showing how inventive they could be.

Land or townscape, realistic or not, was a popular subject since it appealed to everyone, even those who had no knowledge of art history or symbolism. Prints especially enjoyed wide circulation as a cheaper substitute for paintings. They helped to spread the influence and recognition of an artist's style.


Image: Martin van Heemskerck, Flemish (1537-1612). Colosseum at Rome. Engraving, 8 3/8 x 10 1/4 inches. Gift of Milton McGreevy, F76-55/29.

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