Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Jan Dibbets

Panorama Dutch Mountain 12 x 15° Sea II A  1971

Jan Dibbets is a conceptual artist associated with earth art or environmental art, that “broad-based movement of artists who shared two key concerns of the sixties: the rejection of commercialisation of art and the support of the emerging ecological movement” (Atkins, 1990 p.71).

Dibbets uses a “series of aligned colour photographs to depict landscape by ‘correcting’ or modifying the way humans, the camera and nature itself interact and thus “challenge the ‘reality’ of the photograph and that of seeing with the naked eye” (Stangos, N., et al, 1994 p.111). As well as dealing with the facts of the natural world”, his work engages with the conceptual aspects of perception” (Wheeler, D., 1991 p.265). This reference to perception recalls cubisms visual shuttling and depictions of fleeting events. “The world”, through the eyes of the Cubists “is set forth as a field of shifting relationships that includes the onlooker” (Hughes, 1991 p.32).

Jan Dibbets is “heir to a terrain” that is “constricted” and from a culture “rich in traditional landscape painting” (Wheeler, 1991 p.265). Like earlier Dutch artists Dibbets “deals with the natural world as well as the conceptual aspects of perception, all of which makes him a son not only of Rembrandt and Ruysdael, but also Saenredam (Holland’s 17th Century proto-abstract painter of church interiors) and the great Mondrian” (Wheeler, 1991 p. 265).

The flatness of the Dutch landscape would prove problematic to landscape painters who went on to resolve this “by filling the sky with mountainous clouds” (Wheeler, 1991 p.265). Dibbets found his solution in the camera and so “photographed the native polder serially by mounting his camera on a tripod and rotating it 30 degrees for each twelve shots, all the while progressively tilting the instrument” (Wheeler, 1991 p.265).

The result, “when aligned side by side the sequential color images represented the platitudinous Dutch horizon as a show wave curve or extended mound.” Thus Dibbets, “reshaped the Lowlands and created mountains, at least in the metaphorical manner possible with conceptual documentation” (Wheeler, 1991 p.265).


Atkins, R., (1990) Artspeak: a guide to contemporary ideas, movements, and buzzwords New York: Abbeville Press Publishers

Hughes, R., (1991) Shock of the New London: Thames and Hudson

Stangos, N., (1994) The Thames and Hudson dictionary of art and artists  London: Thames and Hudson

Wheeler, D., (1991) Art since Mid Century London: Thames and Hudson

1 comment:

  1. Wow, how interesting! I would never have associated these with Barbara - nothing like her sculptures! I love them almost as much as her sculptures.
    Offer Waterman & Co.