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Filmed in Presidio, Texas in late 2010, painter Rackstraw Downes describes why he views the work of some long-deceased painters to be relevant to his own contemporary practice. Paintings by such artists are shown including Claude Lorrain’s Sunrise (1646–47), Jacob van Ruisdael’s Wheat Fields (1670), and J.M.W. Turner’sThe Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons (1834–35). Despite not using the same techniques as these painters, Downes seeks out their work because he considers it “useful,” “provocative,” and “like challenges.”
Rackstraw Downes is featured in the Season 6 (2012) episode “Balance” of the Art in the Twenty-First Century program on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via Art21.org, PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes, or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.
CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Rackstraw Downes, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theme Music: Peter Foley.