Label Text: Summer Landscape captures Mathias Alten's impression of a sun-drenched afternoon in rural Michigan. Two figures work in an idyllic landscape of golden fields, rolling hills and shade trees. Alten's vision of Michigan, even in 1928, evoked memories of a simpler, idealized past.
Mathias Alten had little formal instruction in art until, like many American artists of the time, he traveled to Paris to study. When he arrived, avant-garde artists in Paris were experimenting with styles which came to be known as Post-Impressionism, Cubism and Surrealism.
However, Alten was drawn to Impressionism. Impressionist landscapes by Claude Monet had shocked French audiences in the 1860s. But by the early 20th century, the loose brush strokes, bright colors and scenes of "modern" industrial or rural life were not only accepted, but even popular, back home in Grand Rapids.