on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Age of Neopictorialism

Current trends in landscape photography from a historical perspective

Guy Tal

Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US. Website



It is common in art to revive the styles and sensibilities of older periods. Such revivals often correlate with similar historic circumstances. For example, classical art, dating back to the days of Ancient Greece (and later Rome), coincided with an era of progress in democracy, science, and philosophy. In the 18th century, a movement in art now referred to as Neoclassicism arose alongside the Age of Enlightenment, also marked by progress in freedom of expression, science, art, and philosophical thinking.

Following the Enlightenment, Romanticism—a movement celebrating natural beauty, emotions, and individualism—came about, partly as a response to the drudgery of workers in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Not surprisingly, the tenets of romanticism are also found in much of today’s art—including landscape photography—on the heels of the Internet revolution and rampant capitalism. In defiance of stressful jobs, long work hours, and traditions disrupted or supplanted by technology, many professionals today try to balance their lives with creative activities and time spent away from the bustle of cities. 

In defiance of stressful jobs, long work hours, and traditions disrupted or supplanted by technology, many professionals today try to balance their lives with creative activities and time spent away from the bustle of cities.

Although much landscape photography remains true to the aesthetics of the romantic era, the rest of the art world had since moved on. Following romanticism, a new art movement—Realism—came about after a series of political revolutions in France (particularly the “February Revolution” of 1848). With greater social equality, realist artists portrayed, as the name suggests, things as they are, without deference to religious or aristocratic powers, and without (unrealistic) embellishment. Realist paintings portrayed, among other subject matter, such things as plain views, negative emotions, and social commentary, that are not generally found in romantic art.



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