In response to a specific commission as part of the 500th anniversary celebrations of the Renaissance, in July 2018 the highly acclaimed landscape photographer Alex MacLean flew over the châteaux in the Centre-Val-de-Loire Region and captured them on camera. These architectural marvels of the Renaissance, nestling within UNESCO World Heritage listed sites, grace MacLean’s photographs in a way that reveals the quintessence of this age when royalty and patrons set an extraordinary revival of art and thought in motion.
He casts these World Heritage masterpieces in an altogether fresh and contemporary light. The châteaux of Chenonceau and Chambord, Amboise and Azay-le Rideau and many more besides thus appear as we have never seen them before. This exhibition seeks to offer up a reflection, magnifying the timelessness and universal beauty of these stone wonders which sit majestically within their surroundings, untouched for centuries. With a keen eye, Alex MacLean has subtly captured, in the golden light of the Loire’s riverbanks, the power and grace, harmony and symmetry, perfection of forms and proportions of buildings that have inspired and impressed for centuries.
Alex MacLean lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and his studio is based in Cambridge in the United States. His work has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. His showpieces can be found in public and private collections. He has won a host of awards, including the American Academy of Rome’s Prix de Rome in Landscape Architecture for 2003-2004. He has also received grants from foundations such as the Graham Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts.
He is the author of many books: Look at the Land; Aerial Reflections of America (1993), Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (1996), Above and Beyond; Visualizing Change in Small Towns and Rural Areas (2002), Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air (2003), The Playbook (2006), Visualizing Density (2007), OVER: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point (2008), Las Vegas | Venice (2010), Chroniques Aeriennes: L’art d’Alex MacLean (2010), Alex MacLean: Given a Free Hand (2010), Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces (2012), Supply + Demand (2014).
As a pilot and photographer, Alex MacLean keeps alive the great tradition of aerial photography. But he endeavours not to magnify a spectacular landscape so much as to recapture the history and changes of the places he photographs. The artist sheds light on the shifting and rearranging spaces, the effects of time and the developments that give new form to the blocks, the boundaries and the cracks.
Not content merely with revealing the wonders of our planet from above, he very subtly denounces the ecological absurdities that mark our day and age.