The art between Man and Water - Kenneth Cross

Throughout history humans have sought dominance over the waters of the earth. Many landscapes bear man's steel and concrete victories over rivers and seas. Water takes the path of least resistance and any beauty in its design is natural, but when these waters meet the technology of man, they become part of his design. This gallery collects works that reflect this juxtaposition of human engineering and natural waters. 

In Conversation - Sky and Earth the artist places a large electrical tower in the foreground and shows the Hoover Dam sharing equal presence with a mountain side in the lower third of the painting's background. The upper two thirds of the background show electrical wire connections crossing in a clear sky overhead. By painting the tower from a low angle it allows it to dominate the frame and emphasizes the electricity created by the dam’s control over the river. The contrast of the geometric shapes of the dam and the organic face of the mountain create a contrast near the center of the painting which mirrors the process in which the dam and river create electricity.
The Bridge in building shows the construction of The Sydney Harbor Bridge looming over still ocean waters with a cloud filled sky in the background. The artist paints the bridge from an angle which makes the space between the two unfinished halves appear to be small and man’s conquest of the harbor appear to be well within reach. The dominance of the bridge is furthered by only painting a sliver of the harbor masked by a shoreline filled with construction equipment.
Canal under construction depicts a distant coastline behind the mouth of a ship sized manmade concrete canal. The geometric shapes of the the canal and its gates create contrast between the surrounding organically shaped mounds of dirt, while the Analogous color harmonies with similar values make the two seem to blend together. The close proximity of the empty man-made concrete channel to the natural shore line brimming with water creates a potential for movement of the water across the narrow dike between them, which further creates harmony between the two.
The Steamship Syracuse depicts a long steam powered ship traveling on a Lake of fresh water at sunset. The division of man and nature is illustrated by the paintings use of texture. The sky coast and water are all very rough in comparison to the smooth textures of the ship, which portrays the designs of man as a refinement over the designs of nature. This combined with the much brighter value of the ship’s colors, help emphasize it as the focal point and give it dominance over the waters it’s traveling through.
In The Claudian Aquaduct, Rome, the few remaining arches of an aqueduct tower over two men talking in the lower left third of the painting. The desaturated green color of a small line of trees atop the aqueduct is the only hint of water in the scene. This combined with the similar hues of the color harmony show human engineering and natural water in a stalemate. Both the water and aqueduct are in a heavy state of decay and similar textures and values help to create a visual representation of this equilibrium.
Allegheny River Dawn (Mill Scene Toward Evening) shows one bank of a river lined by the buildings and smokestacks of mills. The River is filled with saturated blue-green to blue-violet colors while the red-orange to orange-yellow colors of the buildings complete the complementary color harmony. This color-created contrast highlights a shoreline that ranges from geometric and man-made in the background to rounded and organic as it comes into the foreground. There is an asymmetrical balance between the man-made and mills and naturally flowing river as they both seem to take up the same area of the painting. This balance portrays the two sides as equally powerful, yet at each other’s mercy.
Prospect reservoir shows a reservoir with a narrow tributary canal and a small structure surrounded by green fields and hills under a partly cloudy big sky. One side of the reservoir is formed by a large dike. This side is represented by a perfectly straight line that cuts through the organic strokes of the landscape and clearly shows the distinction between what is man made and natural. This contrast instantly identifies the reservoir as man-made and helps tell the story of a landscape transformed by man and water.
Miyun-Reservoir depicts a large man-made body of water with a shoreline of steep hills leading up to The Great Wall of China. The scale of the reservoir is related by the decreasing proportion of the wall sections that stretch as far as the reservoir’s shore. The two man-made monstrosities dominate the landscape and following the organic shapes of the hills you can imagine what the valley beneath the reservoir might look like.
View of the Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia, from the Opposite Side of the Schuylkill River Depicts a waterworks and dam built across and along one side of a river. The colors are desaturated but have a high contrast in values. This contrast highlights the outlines of the foreground trees and gives them a strong presence and pushes the man-made side of the river further back into the painting. The water works is distinguished by its straight lines and geometric shapes standing against the detailed organic shapes of the hills behind it. The values also come into play again as light values make it appear to be lit by the sun while a overcast skies keep the natural landscape in shadow.
Piazza Navona, Rome shows a roman mall surrounded by multi level buildings with shops at their ground levels. In the center of the mall are two grand fountains and a monumental obelisk in a row. This piece best illustrates a man-made dominance over water. The waters of the fountains take up a very small portion of the painting and it is clear that they are only there by the will of mans design. The waters carry the geometrically shaped mark of man; the same as the stone and concrete that surrounds them.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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