“So the Horizon Line Vanishes”: Landscape and Abstraction in England from the 1930s to the 1950s

In: Reflective Landscapes of the Anglophone Countries

This paper examines how English landscape painting was affected by abstraction from the 1930s onwards. It focuses on the practice of two artists: John Piper, whose transitional work reflected the tension between two semiotic codes: the representational conventions of the picturesque and the formal language of abstraction; and Peter Lanyon whose work relied on a form of abstraction but went beyond the tension explored by Piper and developed a new way of perceiving landscape. Both artists were attracted to bare places which accommodated two contradictory meanings: the revival of a tradition and a new beginning, two potent values that shaped the attitudes of wartime and post-war artists.