When H.G. Wells visited Niagara Falls, foremost symbol of the New World’s limitless potential, the renowned English writer commented, the “real interest of Niagara Falls for me was not in the waterfall but the human accumulations about it for they stood for the future.”
Hudson River School Landscapes by Regis Gignoux - Revisited by Alan Gignoux
Alan Gignoux and Curator Jenny Christensson are researching the paintings of the Hudson River School artist Regis Gignoux, Alan's ancestor, with the aim of creating a contemporary artistic response to his nineteenth century paintings of the American landscape
Determined to establish a distinctive American school of painting, the Hudson River School artists identified the new world landscape – wild, varied, bounteous, impressive in scale and unique – as the most suitable subject on which to focus their energies. For a young nation trying to establish a binding national identity the unwritten land was a symbol around which people of different cultures and religions could unite. The paintings they created helped to establish a set of values associated with the American wilderness, which have become integral to national identity.
Some of the landscapes they chose to paint, Niagara Falls, Lake George and the White Mountains among them, have become what author John F. Sears has described as “sacred places.” Elevated to iconic status in the national consciousness, these places singled out for their exceptional natural beauty and grandeur, have had to live with – or live up to - the responsibility of this legacy, while also adapting to commercial and industrial progress.
This project sets out to document the human accumulations (people and what they have built) that have grown up around Niagara Falls and four other American sacred places painted by Regis Gignoux in the light of the national ideals associated with them from the nineteenth century onwards. It is also a personal journey, as Alan, in the company of Jenny, uncovers the life and work of his fellow artist and ancestor.
Human Accumulations will be a photographer’s book and an exhibition. It will include oil paintings by Regis Gignoux of Niagara Falls, Lake George, the White Mountains, Peekskill in the Hudson River Valley and Mammoth Cave, and Alan Gignoux’s photographs from those places made in response to his ancestor’s landscapes. The book and exhibition will also incorporate artefacts and ephemera from the life and times of Regis Gignoux.
Call to follow the project on Instagram Follow Alan’s journey on Instagram as he uncovers information about Regis Gignoux and his work and produces his own creative response.
Creative team for this project
Alan Gignoux – Photographer
Jenny Christensson – Curator
Chloe Juno – Creative Consultant/Photo Editor
Eirini Lemos – Researcher
Human Accumulations is a creative response to a selection of paintings of iconic sites in the American landscape by Regis Gignoux. Alan will visit the places represented for extended periods over the next two years in order to build an understanding of how they have developed since the nineteenth century in the light of the values and aspirations associated with them at the time. The sites in question are: Niagara Falls, the White Mountains, Lake George, Peekskill on Hudson and Mammoth Cave.