“Within the lifetime of a single generation, a rustic and in large part wild landscape was transformed into the site of the world’s most productive industrial machine. It would be difficult to imagine more profound contradictions of value or meaning than those made manifest by this circumstance.” So writes Leo Marx in his touchstone book The Machine in the Garden (1964). Today, a life without technology is unimaginable. But in the 19th century, the tension between the pastoral ideal and the rapid alterations of the landscape wrought by the Industrial Revolution were a central concern. Segantini expresses the anxiety felt by the unsettling effects of the machine’s sudden entrance into the landscape. The hot steam from a thundering locomotive sweeps over his pumpkin field forcing the workers to turn away. The artist portrays the train’s dark silhouette as an intrusion on what would otherwise be a tranquil rural scene.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (CC BY 3.0).