There are so many wonderful artists that were inspired by nature. One of my favorites is Claude Monet (1840-1926). He captured the beautiful scenery of Normandy and French gardes in a way that no one else had done before. At that time in Europe, open air panting wasn’t well-accepted by the general public, and Monet met a lot of resistance and criticism in his early years. However, his painting are revered today for their beauty, and his water lilies and poppies have become iconic.
“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her…I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”- Monet
One of my favorite artists inspired by the environment is Ansel Adams (1902-1984), the photographer and environmentalist. Adams is most famous for his phographs of Yosemite National Park other images of the west. He was an ardent conservationist and a member of the Sierra Club who was committed to preserving the landscapes he photographed.
The Hudson River School was a group of 19th century painters that captured beautiful American landscapes.
George Loring Brown
Martin Johnson Heade
Frederic Edwin Church
There is a museum in England dedicated exclusively art inspired by nature, including works by artists from 60 different countries. Among them is included the work of John James Audubon, whose book “Birds of America”, recently sold for $11.5 million in December of last year. The illustrations in the famous tome were hand coloured. This is a facsimile of one of his more famous prints, the American Flamingo.
My personal favourite, the Snowy Owl:
There are an absolutely vast number of artists inspired by nature. Both visual artists, as you mean, and writers, filmakers etc etc.
We can’t leave out of the list: Van Gogh, who went mad trying to capture nature’s essence in oils. Or Cezanne, Corot, de Groux, Manet, Rousseau, and so many of the twentieth century artists who turned the course of that medium for all time.
Dan Snow creates very interesting stone sculptures, some of which look very difficult to create, but very beautiful when completed. Here’s a website of the many different stone sculptures he has created.
Georgia O’Keefe, an American painter born in 1887, is famous for her paintings of flowers, although she painted other natural scenes as well. She painted flowers in abstract, large-scale, and close up. Some art critics suggest that her flowers are meant to suggest female genitalia.
This video provides a deeper understanding of the historical, ecological and cultural themes surrounding grass, grazing freely from the studio to suburban landscape.
The construction process is revealed, from recycled tins in the studio, to the marathon “turf party” where the 32,400 blades of metal grass were inserted into the base. Producer, Harriete Estel Berman; Director, Will Zavala, Morsel Pictures; Music by Beth Custer, 2000.
One of my favorite artists inspired by nature is Robert Smithson (1938-1973) An American sculpture, Smithson became interested in minimalism and the interaction between humans, nature, and time. His most famous work is a called Spiral Jetty (1970), a site-specific piece made from rocks, earth, and salt. The 1,500 spiral shaped jetty starts at the shoreline and extends in the Great Salt Lake, in Rozel Point, Utah.
Smithson said this piece was meant to reflect on and mimic the entropy of the earth and was not to be kept from being destroyed by the elements. It was first constructed during a drought and following that, steady rainfall kept the jetty underwater and not visible for 30 years. It is now visible and walkable, though a different color than it was before due to the lake’s salinity.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about the piece occurred in 2008, over 3 decades after the artist’s death in a plane crash. A Canadian oil company submitted an application to drill for oil in the lake, about 3.5 miles from the jetty. The Spiral Jetty website posted a message on the possible effects of the drilling, stating that it “could disrupt the artwork’s viewshed, compromise the physical integrity of Smithson’s extraordinary sculpture, upset the area’s isolated character, and degrade the natural environment of the Lake.” This combined with a large public outcry of mostly artists helped convince the state of Utah to turn down the application for oil drilling in the great salt lake.
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