Romantic traditions in eco-art?
: Nature and landscape in the work of Claudy Jongstra

  • AMM Oechtering

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The aim of the thesis ‘Romantic traditions in eco-art? Nature and landscape in the work of Claudy Jongstra’ is to explore Claudy Jongstra’s art in relation to the Romantic tradition. With her work, Jongstra (Roermond, NL, 1963- ) addresses current matters such as the loss of biodiversity and unsustainable patterns of consumption. While Jongstra’s art is commonly interpreted within the context of eco-art, her approach to nature and landscape suggests an affinity with Romanticism. This thesis offers the first exploration of this possible connection.
    As eco-art presents perspectives on urgent ecological questions, it is relevant to understand how these perspectives and propositions are formed. Mark A. Cheetham’s Landscape into eco art (2017) serves as example and theoretical basis for this inquiry. Cheetham analyzed both Romantic art and eco-art from an ecocritical point of view, demonstrating that Romantic concepts are still relevant in and for eco-art. This investigation of Claudy Jongstra’s art and its relationship to the Romantic tradition in this thesis contributes to Cheetham’s model of interpretation. It has also led to a deeper understanding of Jongstra’s work, clearly determining parallels but also highlighting crucial differences with respect to Romanticism.
    The questions that are being answered in this thesis are: What is the relationship between humans and nature that emerges in Jongstra’s art in comparison to Romantic ideas of the relationship between humans and nature? And: To what extent does Jongstra offer a perspective for the current environmental crisis with her art, and is this related to a Romantic view of art and the world? To answer these questions, three works are being analyzed in more detail: Golden Guipure (2007), NINE (2020), and Guernica de la Ecología (2021- ). These works are considered representative for Jongstra’s oeuvre, covering a span of fifteen years. The analysis of these three artworks is complemented by a comprehensive exploration of Jongstra’s creative methods and her use of organic materials and colors. This serves as the foundation for making inferences about her perspective on nature and landscape.
    The Romantics revitalized society’s interest in nature, portraying nature as a living force beyond mere economic utility. They criticized the overemphasis on rational thinking and instead brought back a sense of wonder and mystery. In a similar vein, Jongstra portrays nature as something beyond rational comprehension and employs art to reconnect audiences with nature’s intrinsic qualities. Jongstra’s application of artistic research bridges science, nature, and society – an ideal first expressed by the Romantics. Her focus on local and traditional practices also mirrors Romantic ambitions. In addition, Jongstra renews the Romantic landscape genre, making it relevant again by using it to address ecological concerns.
    Jongstra differs from Romanticism by actively involving nature in her creative process, viewing nature as part of art and vice versa. Unlike the Romantics who saw nature as a parallel realm, to be used in art for aesthetic contemplation, Jongstra actively engages with her environment and integrates her art into the ecosystem, letting nature become a co-creator of her work. This challenges traditional human-centered views of nature, demonstrating an approach that diverges from Romantic perspectives on nature. Her approach aligns with ecological principles, situating humans within nature and acknowledging interdependence and shared responsibility for ecosystems.
    In conclusion, the thesis establishes that while our time echoes aspects of Romanticism, and while Romantic ideas and approaches can be detected in Jongstra’s art, her art is not merely a continuation of Romanticism. Instead, her art embodies a distinct perspective on both nature and art that extends beyond Romantic art, offering new approaches and perspectives on ecological questions that are original to our time.
    Date of Award19 Sept 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGregor Langfeld (Supervisor) & Nathalie Zonnenberg (Examiner)


    • Claudy Jongstra
    • eco-art
    • romanticism

    Master's Degree

    • Master Kunst en Cultuurwetenschappen

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