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Photograph Works by Laura McPhee Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Nov 25th, 2021


The mastership of artistic thought contemplates the ability to see and perform what others are not able to see and feel. In this simple assumption the fullness of the art can be inscribed into the domain of painting, sculpture, and photographing, in particular. Within contemporary painters or artists in this field of activity Laura McPhee has a significant place. Her snapshots represent the artistic vision of landscape somehow fixed in accordance with the paintings of the eminent painters which worked rather earlier than McPhee. Thus, the paper is dedicated to representing the peculiarities of the photograph works by Laura McPhee in their splendid shaping and vivid representation of main features. Her landscape imagery from the past being implied, as myth, symbol, emblem, and even propaganda, is consistent with McPhee’s photographs.

Main Body

First of all, when looking at the artistic work by McPhee, one should bear in mind that the author is nationwide and worldwide acknowledged for her works and large and diverse background of experience. Thereupon, the photographer inspires by her attitude toward the details being fixed and their correlation on the photo. In other words, the artist tries to implement in her artistic work the reality, as it is and as it was in times of Matisse, Van Gogh and other outstanding artists of the nineteenth century. Rebecca Solnit vividly describes the mastership of McPhee in terms of the featuring and capability of the artist to catch the right moment, background, and foreshortening in her photographs. Thus, the author of the article “Indivisibility” admits the alleged American manner of execution in the works of McPhee: “This time the camera has pulled back from the mountains to straggly apple trees in the middle ground and sagebrush and rusty wreckage in the foreground” (Solnit 7-8). This particular feature in the works of Laura McPhee impresses the viewer owing to the mastership of the photographer in playing with the background and foreground. This ability of the artist leads to her genuine and original style which she inherited out of the previous epochs in visual art. In this respect one of her books is entitled precisely A Journey into Matisse’s South of France. In this narrative description of her photographs the author intends to reflect the area of Southern France where the eminent painters derived inspiration during plain airs. Nevertheless, Laura McPhee impresses with her personal admiration of the area and its beauty for a talented artist. The symbolic and impressive means which she uses in her snapshots determine her exhibitions with a versatile outlook on the contemporary problems of environment. The collection of photographs called No Ordinary Land particularly depicts the world sceneries which McPhee gathered during her trips all over the world. Her talent in this sphere of landscape painting is similar to the modeling and featuring of impressionists with some details gained from pop art and spiced with genuine, full of splendor originality by McPhee herself. It is not surprising that Solnit does not hide her admiration of McPhee’s works determining their honorable place within masterpieces of art: “The photographs portray not the binary story of touched/untouched, but the subtle histories of kinds and layers of touches in the landscape, not an authoritative story but a plethora of divergent versions” (Solnit 8).

In fact, Laura McPhee follows the style of her predecessors in the world of painting. This is seen in the example of her exhibitions where the role of primary things is depicted and outlined for an ordinary viewer with applicable manner to highlight what seems to be poorly highlighted. Numerous snapshots in some ways reflect the models in painting techniques being used by French artists almost two centuries ago. However, on the photographs by the author one can feel the contrast with the works of impressionist and other schools of landscape painters. This contrast concerns the visual changes of Living Edens described earlier and today. In this respect one of the urges and main ideas of Laura Mcphee reckons with the contemporary scientific and technological progress which pollutes the nature. However, not all works are related to this particular theme. Most of them display the vividness of the wild nature in its diversity of species and living kinds. In Sri-Lankan collection of photographs McPhee shows the wide-spread plantations of black tea which are placed on the picturesque slopes of the island with particular soleness of the sceneries. Her talent presupposes ignorance of any patterning of the art according techniques and methods. On the other hand, she tries to involve a viewer into the magic world of her personal artistic vision of beauty, as it is. Really, there is no personal drawing of the landscapes regarding to the art of photography. Instead the mastership of artistic reflection of the landscape reality is fixed on a photograph.


To sum up, the artistic work by Laura McPhee provides a wide scope of snapshots which take part in various exhibitions in the United States and in the world. The mastership of the photographer is imposed in her relation to what was done by predecessors in the relative field of visual art.

Works cited

Laura McPhee. The Official Webpage.

McPhee, Laura. A Journey Into Matisse’s South of France. New York: Roaring Forties Press, 2006.

Solnit, Rebecca. “Indivisibility”. No Ordinary Land: Encounters in a Changing Environment, Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee. NY: Aperture Foundation, 2008.

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