Cover Image: American Vistas

American Vistas

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Member Reviews

A book that as I saw it was repetitive, and needed proof-reading, but either way still deserves merit for introducing the world to an artist generally stuck working within American markets and landscapes. John van Alstine stumbled into sculpture at college, and managed to work in any and all combinations of steel, stone and wood, before gradually dropping the latter, and creating art for indoors and out showing the (im)balance of natural stone and human-wrought metal. I can take or leave a lot of his output, but on the whole his aesthetic is not unpleasing.

This book covers his biography, with full illustrations from a lot of his career. Acting as a sort of cousin to something more like an earlier catalogue raisonee, it's great for putting him and his output into context, especially as a landscape artist. Some of his larger street art is fine, some not – and the large 9/11 memorial, whose production we hear about in his own words, looks fine from some angles and less so from others. As regards his gallery pieces, some are – again – fine, but a lot remains too conceptual for me, and the stridency of his covid years seems to be a case of more is less, given the amount of works produced with the inevitable reduction in feedback from others.

All told I had my eyes opened to an artist who should have more of a global presence, I feel – his works do not speak of specific places and mindsets, even if a lot of the pieces are said to be of "local" stone (local to…?). Some of his larger pieces have been exported, but finding his stamp on anything outside the lower 48 seems difficult in the extreme. Meaning this book is more worthwhile, of course – it's about the only place to see much of this art, and I was grateful for that chance.

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