Katrine Senstad - Recent work
by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder is an expert in modern American art rooted in the 1920s to the 1960s.
His gallery Gary Snyder Fine Art, was established in New York in 1990.
The essay Recent work was written for the exhibition catalogue "The Pink Project" in 2006.
On a plane, flying west over Germany, slowly (so it seems) moving over this continent on the way to my own.
Staring out my window, as far as the eye can see, the hazy mid-day sun frames and infuses the distant horizon.
A thin band of white light stretches over and around that pure horizontal – cloud particles, optical firings, felt sensation,
and more. Soft blue-grey haze floats below, more blue above. I know this place, this space, this light, this energy – art
merges with life as I recollect the photographic works of Anne Katrine Senstad.
Shortly before I left for Germany I visited Anne, whose work I have followed for over ten years. In 2002, I wrote that “the photographs
of Anne Katrine Senstad … embraced, in the words of John Golding, a “path to some new, ultimate pictorial truth or certainty,
to a visual absolute”, and that “this visual absolute” is light itself. There was much in the new work that was similar – soft,
pure color, a simplicity that bleeds to and through the edges of the image, a sense of image as vibration, and, again,
that “visual absolute” that is light itself. But what felt new was the sense of landscape, of a pure horizontal that was not
a formal line but rather a resting place for the natural world.
Artists have always drawn inspiration from that art which has come before them. I see Anne Katrine Senstad’s roots emerging
from the more monochromatic paintings of Ad Reinhardt, and their demand that the viewer meditate on pure color and pure field.
An aspect of this sensibility extends back to the early American modernists, Arthur Dove in particular, and a softening of
natural form to suggest a synthesis of emotion and perception. Still further, one feels a tie to the American Luminists,
and the Transcendentalists (Thoreau and Whitman’s) affinity for the mysteries of the natural world. Indeed, Senstad joins
these others in what Robert Rosenblum calls the “Northern Romantic Tradition” (is it a surprise that Senstad is Norwegian by birth?)
As expressed by Pamela Schaeffer, “Rosenblum … was among the first scholars to assert that abstract art, far from
representing a neat break with representational art, is actually part of a Romantic tradition reflected in northern European artists
like Caspar David Friedrich and Joseph M. Turner, who infused landscape paintings with a "sense of divinity." Abstract artists
faced the same problem as the earlier Romantics, he said: "how to find, in a secular world, a convincing means of expressing
those religious experiences that, before the Romantics, had been channeled into the traditional themes of Christian art."
I find myself drawn to works of art that speak more of reverence than its opposite, of humility rather than ego, of art as a slow
and spiritual process rather than a hurried response to changing times, of nature as much if not more than culture.
Anne Katrine Senstad responds to a need for deeper works of art in our troubled times.
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