Art Review: Landmark @ Somerset House

There’s something inherently cathartic in gazing at a photograph of a scenic landscape, whether it be flicking through your holiday snaps or admiring a Constable masterpiece. This latest exhibition explores the theme of landscapes but takes a broader approach to the category, including photographs from space and documenting humanity’s impact on the Earth.

The list of artists featured includes many of photography’s big names such as Ansel Adams, Edward Burtynsky, Nadav Kandar, John Stezaker and Pieter Hugo – the latter two are the winner and one of the finalists of the Deutsche Borse prize.

Our impact on earth’s environment is understandably a key focus of this exhibition, including Daniel Beltra’s irridescent birds eye shots of the Atlantic – they appear beautiful but are in fact the ecological disaster caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Taking on a more divided subject is Alex Maclean who has captured hundreds of windmills at Tehachapi Pass – preserving our future or a blight on the landscape?

But it’s not all socio-political and there are plenty of photographs of the bizarre and beautiful. Benoit Aquin’s statue of Genghis Khan seen through a dust storm almost seems like he’s come back to life while Penelope Umbrico sears our eyes with hundreds of pictures of the sun taken from Flickr in an inspiring mosaic.

Other favourites include a seemingly pointless road lopping over the sea, a wolf who appears to be howling at a street light and an overhead view of shipping containers from such a height that they look like pieces in a giant game of Tetris.

This is a fantastic and definitive assemblage of landscape photography and an exhibition that we highly recommend.

Landmark: The Fields of Photography is on display at Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA until 28 April. Admission is free.

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