View from Above

Here at PERCH we are partial to a bird’s eye view. And when asked what superpower we’d most like to have – the answer is immediately, flight. What better way to understand a situation or get your bearings than to see out to the horizon, above the treetops.

Aerial landscapes have been popular with artists for millennia. Actually, the first of these works are known as maps – used by people worldwide to record their surroundings and find their way. Map makers as early as the Bronze age were painting the contours of the land on cave walls.

Aboriginal rock paintings have been found in Australia dating back 40,000 years. This indigenous art form evolved into abstract landscapes—showing ancestral paths to watering holes and sacred sites. Dot paintings or Song Lines are still a vital part of Aboriginal culture, connecting people to their land. 

Delvine Petyarre, Country, acrylic on canvas

As hot air balloons and airplanes took to the skies, aerial photography and landscape art entered new territory. Artists no longer had to dream up perspectives from the clouds – they could record them from experience.

The Italian Futurists were fascinated with painting aerial views of landscapes - which they called aeropainting (aeropittura). Artist Gerardo Dottori and friends signed the Futurist Manifesto of Aeropainting in 1929 which stated "Painting from this new reality requires a profound contempt for detail and a need to synthesize and transfigure everything."

Gerardo Dottori, Aeropittura, 1971

Later, painters like Richard Diebenkorn were inspired by looking down at agricultural fields from tiny plane windows in the 1950s. His vast swatches of luminous color fields developed into his “Ocean Park” series which the artist worked on for 20 years after moving to Santa Monica in 1966.

In the mid 70s, artist Nancy Graves was enthralled with maps and started creating pointillist aerial landscapes of the moon based on satellite images and other sources. Contemporary Bay Area artist Ala Ebtekar inherits this upward view by recreating the dimensions of a starry heaven in works such as Luminous Ground.

Nancy Graves, Untitled #127 (Drawing of the Moon), circa 1972

But back down on earth, artists like our very own Barbara Maricle are watching the land shift and adjust to human habitation. Her Terraform series of oil paintings represent blue streams snaking through vibrant fields or possible rooftops overlooking a winding garden path. Her palette of rich earthy colors balance as only nature knows how.

We’re excited to present Barbara’s Terraform series as a limited series of giclee prints on Moab Lasal Photo Matte paper. Click here to view in the shop.

Barbara Maricle, Terraform 3, 2019

And If you ever want to experience the feeling of flight from your home office just launch Google Earth and hit the dice icon to pick a random destination. See you in the skies.

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