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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.


Artist: Mark Tansey (born 1949)
Date: 1994
71 3/4 × 144 1/2 in. (182.2 × 367 cm)
Framed: 73 in. × 145 1/2 in. × 2 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2014.29
Signed: l.l., in white paint: Tansey verso, on canvas: "LANDSCAPE" (COLOSSII) / Tansey 1994 oil on canvas
On View
Accession Number: 2014.29
Provenance(Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY); purchased by Stefan T. Edlis, Chicago, IL, 1994; to (Sotheby’s, New York, NY), November 11, 2014, sale N09221, lot 55; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2014
Label TextAlthough titled Landscape, Mark Tansey’s painting has little to do with nature. Tansey uses artistic conventions of landscape, such as a horizon line and receding space, but the scene is fantastical and imaginative. A mountain of crumbled figures dominates the center of the canvas, representing dismantled sculptures of prominent male figures from history.

The message is contradictory—leaders’ legacies are preserved through art, but whose legacies will escape the dustbin of history? The image alludes to contemporary mass media, in which bits and pieces of information break loose of their historical grounding and freely combine into new configurations. Tansey’s one color palette is reminiscent of sepia-toned photographs, old films, or vintage television.