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40 acres, no mule

A 40-acre chunk of Kilauean coastline collapsed last week, reports CNN. I post mostly for the pretty pictures, most of which are supplied by the United States Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. I like the one at right especially because it gives a good sense of the scale of the collapse. In the CNN article Jim Gale describes what happened: “It just sheared off that old wall. There’s this gigantic steam plume and you see the red just falling down—an incredible fire hose display.”

Looking at the images of Kilauea, I am reminded of Frederic Church’s Cotopaxi (1862, below)—a painting the drama of which evokes thoughts of the American Civil War. (There’s a number of reasons I say this, but they aren’t really worth going into. And no, not every photo of a volcano reminds me of Cotopaxi. I think I remembered the painting today because of Thursday’s search for the sublime.) As I remember the story, Church toured South America in the late 1850s with an entrepreneur who went south in part because he wanted to find a geographical answer to slavery. (A lot of people sought geographical solutions to the “slave problem.” Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example, loved the idea of returning the slaves to Africa and consequently was a major supporter of Liberia.) One commentary I have on the painting suggests Church wanted to evoke Humboldt. But then, who didn’t?

 

Comments

so, is there an essential book on 19th century landscape artists in south america?

heade and church and anyone else?

hmmm….

i don’t know of a book on artists in south america—but that may be because I don’t have a good bibliography. most books on artists begins in the hudson valley and extrapolates from there. Angela Miller’s Empire of the Eye might supply a good base from which to begin, but i haven’t read enough of it to say for sure. most painters went to california & the rockies after the C.W. rather than south.

On a related (but not South American) note, check out the update on Smithson’s Spiral Jetty at Eye Level. I had not heard that the Jetty was out of the water again (Water levels through the 1990s had risen and submerged it). If you do nothing else, at least click on the “stunning photograph” link. It really is a good photo.