Photo Journalist Alan Gignoux
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
The Hudson River School painters were racing against the clock to capture the iconic natural wonders of the United States before industrialization altered the landscape. Award winning British photojournalist Alan Gignoux (gignouxphotos.com) followed in the footsteps of our ancestor, Regis Gignoux, one of the founders of the Hudson River School of Painting. A photographer with a passionate interest in the environment, Alan was captivated by The Hudson River School quest for beauty in nature. Working with his camera en plein air, he sought to revisit and study the iconic landscapes of the Hudson River School beginning with Niagara Falls.
The incomparable landscapes of Yosemite, the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, or the Appalachian Trail capture our imaginations and hopes. The awe inspiring natural beauty, fresh air, promise of good health and new beginnings inspire the pioneer and adventurer in all of us. There is a similar draw to the beautifully tended and manicured English gardens of Sissinghurst and Hidcote and the simple cottage gardens of an English village. The idea of uniting nature with man is an age old intersection.
Alan shows us the reality of present day Niagara Falls. His photos capture the intersection of man and nature, enabling us to imagine the toll of industrialization and commercialization. The city of Niagara Falls, New York does not fall under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Preservation of these great landscapes was taken up by President Theodore Roosevelt (U.S. Forest Service), Governor Percival Baxter of Maine (Mt. Katahdin, Baxter State Park), Stanley Abbott (Landscape Architect for the Blue Ridge Parkway) and John Muir (Father of the National Parks) and many other trailblazers who sought to protect in perpetuity the vast expanses of our North American landscape for all to see and visit. Only the narrow band of protected land alongside the Falls preserves the original natural paradise as depicted by Hudson River School painters in the 1800's.
Artists take the liberty of revealing beauty and truth. The enduring message of the Hudson River School Painters was as much about what they didn’t paint as it was about what they did paint. What we don’t see are the days of trekking and lugging equipment to the summit of natural wonders. Alan has spent months capturing the Niagara Falls of today studying both its past and present circumstance to bring us a Take 2 to contemplate.