film, photography and drama
doctoral research

The 'Neo-Picturesque' Landscape

  • Onderzoekers: Jan Kempenaers
  • Promotoren: Armand Mevis (School of Arts), Dirk De Meyer (Ghent University, dept. Architecture and Urban Planning)

2006 – 2012

In the 18th century, English painter William Gilpin (1724-1804) sought to create the ‘ideal depiction’ of a natural landscape. He formulated a number of criteria and applied these to his water colours which to him were the models of this ‘perfect’ depiction of the natural landscape. Later, these criteria were considered the principles of the picturesque and their application was extended to other media. From the mid-19th century onwards, there has been a continuing interest in Gilpin’s work from the world of photography. This research project runs parallel to the continuing development of my artistry, and consists of both a visual-artistic and a textual component. It presents a twofold question: On the one hand it will examine why certain landscape images are experienced as picturesque. On the other hand, it will focus on the significance of the notion of the picturesque for the depiction of the present-day landscape. What exactly is the meaning of the picturesque today? Does it still make sense to apply this category? Is it still relevant as a concept? How does it relate to the landscape? What are its current definitions and criteria? Are there other types of the ideal landscape, relevant today, that we can compare to the picturesque?

Research projects