Matthew Jensen says that the phrase "conceptual landscape art" best describes his work. Landscape photography and rigorously built collections are a big component of his artistic process. Jensen's landscapes often develop into metaphors with recurring iconography, such as spruce trees, landscaped boulders, the sun, clouds, and blue skies. Spending a great deal of time in the landscape—walking and exploring—is essential to his process and often yields voluminous collections. Every Tree in Town, featured here, is a good example as the final series comprises 1,017 photographs.
Jensen's work The 49 States was recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Using Google "Street View," Jensen captured what he calls "expansive and beautiful nowheres" that, despite their separation from the hustle and flow of people and cities, are still touched by technology.
Interview with the Artist
1. Who is your favorite artist?
I can't answer just one. I have a strange mixed bag of artists I admire. One of them is Ryan Trecartin because he addresses issues like consumerism and sexuality in a direct way. In photography, I love the Becher's work, Struth, Sugimoto, and Eggleston. A number of my pieces approach typology but with a careful consideration for the place I am in and a democratic treatment for the subject. I also like Francis Alí¿s's work; I love the videos of him chasing and running straight into the dust devils.
2. Regarding your work, would you say that you can relate to Richard Long and Hamish Fulton because they walk so much?
I can relate to their process, the quietness of their work and the clear love for landscape that comes out of it.
3. What are your favorite art spaces?
MoMA PS1, Dia:Beacon, and MassMoCA, but on the quietest days.
4. What are your hobbies?
I try to incorporate my hobbies into my process: I like walking, exploring, and finding things, so I put that into my art. Then of course there is tennis, one of my first loves, but it is hard to find time and courts.
5. Do you listen to music when you're walking for work?
Never. I enjoy the meditation of walking and looking. I try not to bring the baggage of the day with me when I'm walking through a landscape. And it is actually pretty dangerous to walk with headphones.
6. What are your favorite landscapes to work in?
I love to work and walk in places that have been lived in and have history. There are always amazing local landmarks that pop up out of nowhere. It's always interesting to walk a course in a landscape where walkers are rare and seeing someone walking is a surprise.
7. If you could go anywhere, where would it be?
I want to see the Northern Lights, so as far north as I need to go.
8. What would your last meal on Earth be?
A burrito at Lupe's on 6th Avenue in SoHo.