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H. Daniel Peck
Allegory, American Literature, Art History, Climate Change, Composition, Exhibitions, Geography, Henry David Thoreau, Historicism, Hudson River School, James Fenimore Cooper, Thomas Cole, Time in Art. VC
H. Daniel Peck, Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College, discusses his monograph and exhibition, on view at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill May 4 - November 3, 2019 entitled: Thomas Cole's Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek. Thomas Cole's Refrain shows how Cole's Catskill Creek paintings, while reflecting concepts such as the stages of life, opened a more capacious vision of experience than his narrative-driven series, such as The Voyage of Life. Relying on rich visual evidence provided by paintings, topographic maps, and contemporary photographs, Peck argues that human experience is conveyed through Cole's embedding into a stable, recurring landscape key motifs that tell stories of their own. The motifs include enigmatic human figures, mysterious architectural forms, and particular trees and plants. Peck finds significant continuities—personal and conceptual—running throughout the Catskill Creek paintings, continuities that cast new light on familiar works and bring significance to ones never before seen by many viewers.