Changing landscapes

Claude Lorrain’s pastoral paintings transcend time

Soft, ethereal, almost transcendent are some ways to describe 17th-century painter Claude Lorrain’s treatment of pastoral landscapes, the atmospheric works that drew praise and culled favor for the French painter, even at the very beginning of his career.

Landscape art only gained recognition as a legitimate art form in the mid-17th century, and Lorrain is given much credit for helping that genre gain its hard-fought acceptance.

In ‘Claude Lorrain: The Painter as Draftsman” at the Legion of Honor, an astounding 85 splendid drawings from the British Museum’s astounding collection show the prominent paper’s careful and delicate interpretation of Italy’s countryside.

The showcase also includes 15 paintings by Lorrain as well.

Born into poverty and an orphan by age 12, Lorrain managed to find an apprenticeship with Augustin Tassi, considered now to be the authority on architectural illusionism.

While working in Rome, Lorrain painted two landscapes for Cardinal Bentivoglio, which subsequently gained him favor from Pope Urban VIII.

Lorrain is known for breaking with the theological painting tradition of the time and bringing to a now tried-and-true painting perspective that at the time flew in the face of the status quo.

Also showing at the Legion of Honor is “Transparent Reflections,” a comprehensive collection of works on paper by Richard Pousette-Dart. Without any formal artistic training, Dart managed to climb to the forefront of the avant-garde art movement during the 1940s in New York. He is now considered a formidable colleague of the abstract expressionist movement, building a reputation on his ability to create potent, powerful art. The collection showing at the Legion brings together 52 of Dart’s works.

Don’t forget your Luggage

Over at The Luggage Store, San Francisco bookbinder Dan Flanagan exhibits his body of work titled “Crestfallen: A Selection of Americana.”

An employee of the San Francisco Public Library, Flanagan’s showcase includes a series of shield-shaped inscriptions on wood, water colors on paper and handmade balls.

Motivating much of the work is Flanagan’s 20-year long study of the Roman alphabet, language and American history.

The result is a body of work that investigates this country’s sugar-coated love affair with slogans, political stumping and the imbedded meanings in colloquial speech.

Within that context, Flanagan attempts to identify key ironies that complicate and perplex our global and national position as a country.

State of the Arts

» “Claude Lorrain: The Painter as Draftsman” and “Transparent Reflections” show Oct. 14-Jan. 14 at the Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 750-3504 or visit

www.famsf.org.

» “Crestfallen” shows through Nov. 11 at The Luggage Store, 509 Ellis St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 255-5971 or visit www.luggagestoregallery.org.

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