Hercules Segers: Master of the Unreal

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Christopher Benfey reviews The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through May 21, 2017.

Benfey writes: “An air of unreality hangs over the astonishing exhibition of seventeenth-century Dutch artist Hercules Segers … More than once, I found myself wondering whether this extraordinary etcher and painter—the creator of mesmerizing prints of spectral trees dripping with moss, ships foundering in rough seas, and a pile of old books with the emotional heft of a pile of skulls, prints that seem to combine an early Chinese landscape aesthetic with Surrealist fantasy—actually existed… The impression of unreality extends to Segers’s art itself, both in subject and technique.”

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