Hanna Johansson
Ph.D., Postdoctoral researcher

Transformed representations of landscape:
nature in contemporary art

My research looks at the manifestation of landscape in late 20th century pictorial art. The aim of my research is to reconstruct the relationships between the topic of landscape art, medium, materiality and the pictoriality of the picture. I look for continuity between the history of landscape art – especially from the late 19th century when the reflection of pictoriality began to replace the external object – and contemporary art. If we can say that landscape as a topic vanished from pictorial art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries to be replaced by abstraction and the reflection of pictoriality, then my aim is to answer why and how landscape is "reborn" in abstraction as a central genre of pictorial art in the late 20th century.

In clarifying my research question, the starting point is in the concepts of nature and life, which I see as interwoven in different ways into the depiction of landscape, but also in the attenuation of the border between the natural and the artificial, which is typical of our time. I understand nature as a prerequisite of culture more than as its external factual background. Therefore I approach nature as an element, which appears and functions as a resource and energy in both representations and at its limits. In addition to art-history I approach my research subject on the one hand through the interest in nature studies, which has awoken in gender, cultural and social studies and on the other hand through critical representation studies, which are partly related to the former. My research demands a transcending of the instrumental notion of art and I therefore reflect on the temporal form of being in the art work, or in other words: instead of studying the art work, I study its accomplishment or "work".

Contact information

Hanna Johansson
Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
Kasarmikatu 36, FI-00130 Helsinki

Tel. +358 9 680 33 268