nature in art


This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

The theme of nature in art has almost always been present whether in American art, Korean art, or art from any other culture. Sometimes its depiction can be literal or even abstract, narrowing it down to just colors of the natural world. Nature can be a simple add on to a painting to convey a sense of depth, or perspective. However, it can also be the main focus of a work of art. Just like nature can be recreated through art, it can also be used as a stand in for greater thought. A realistic depiction of a mountain for example can symbolize not only the sublime, but also curiosity for the unknown. Depictions of nature can also be about intellectual thought and spirituality. Art involving nature can be done simply to display the beauty of the natural world around us, to make scientific observations in an environment, or to open our minds to philosophical ideas about our own connection to nature and beyond. The philosopher Aristotle once wrote that "Art not only imitates nature, but it also completes its deficiencies." This can be interpreted as art not only recreating the natural world but also creating new ways in which to see it in another light. In other words, art is the missing voice of what nature lacks to speak.

The Indian's Vespers, Asher B. Durand, 1847, From the collection of: The White House
Asher B. Durand was a part of the Hudson River School, a group of landscape artists in America that believed nature had a greater spiritual quality. This group of artists wanted to portray nature as realistically as possible because not only did they believe it was created by God, but that it belonged to America. They wanted to show in their work that America was just as beautiful as Europe, if not more so because of the untouched "magical" land they had available to them. The idea of Manifest Destiny, or expanding toward the West because it was mankind's right to do so, was also a major influence at the time. One can see that nature is the main focus in this painting because of its relation to the Native American on the bottom right. Durand's, "The Indian's Vesper" is depicting an Indian in an evening prayer, otherwise known as a "vesper". The Native American can be a stand in for the past as well as a stand in for mankind in general. The fact that he is facing toward the sun not only highlights the figure, but can also symbolize the coming progression of man and the world in which they live in. Sunsets usually represent an end to something, in this case possibly an end to old ways. The light however can also symbolize hope for the future. Because of these artistic choices, the art has not only a spiritual quality, but a moral one. (Hampson, Thomas."Hudson River School." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.) -Cindy Cruz
Ten Calligraphies with Paintings Depicting Scholars Enjoying Quietness and Elegance in Nature, Gang Se-hwang, 1713/1791, From the collection of: Korea Data Agency
The belief that nature had a spiritual quality was not only present in American art, but Korean art as well. Nature was believed to not only be connected to human life, but to spirituality. Korean art not only depicts nature, but more specifically human experience in nature. Landscape painting became a reflection of the time, which was a dominance and growth of philosophical ideals, like Confucianism for example. These ideologies were built on ideals of humility and intellect. They were focused on being humble individuals in order to understand the world around them in greater depth, objectively. Art was a way to explore the world, beyond just human life. Their views of putting themselves aside were expressed in their art, where the figures are not as visible as the space in which they are in. The landscape is clearly the dominant presence in the piece, yet the addition of the people, although relatively small, connects nature to human life. The title itself, "Ten Calligraphies with Paintings Depicting Scholars Enjoying Quietness and Elegance in Nature", shows the human connection toward nature. There is a clear connection to intellect and knowledge within the natural world simply because they are scholars, which means they are highly educated in some area. Without the two scholars it might not be as clear of a reference. However, because there is a glimpse of human life, the solitude one is exposed to within nature becomes much more visible. Through the depiction of large mountains in the background, which can humble just about anyone, nature becomes a powerful force all on its own. (Lee, Soyoung."Religious Influence on Korean Art." Asia Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2015.) -Cindy Cruz
Romantic Landscape with Spruce, Elias Martin, 1768/1780, From the collection of: Nationalmuseum Sweden
Elias Martin was a Swedish landscape painter during the late 18th century. Martin moved to London for twelve years where he spent the majority of his time focusing on landscape painting. This painting was inspired by the unique landscape he observed while in London which was far different from that of Sweden. He was amazed how the London scenery seemed to be untouched by man. In this painting Martin wants to depict the power and beauty of nature. The rugged terrain forces the trees to grow in irregular patches of land and branch off in different directions. The height of the mountains reinforces the immense strength that nature has over man. Hiding in the painting, Martin also adds a person standing in front of a small cabin to illustrate the concept of the sublime. The sublime once again repeating the Power of nature and the insignificance of man. Hoppe,Ragnar."Elias Martin in England", The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs Vol.83, No.489(Dec.,1943),pp.301-303+305 -Brian Lehe
Mountain Peak with Drifting Clouds, Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1835, From the collection of: Kimbell Art Museum
Mounting Peak with Drifting Clouds is a painting that brings the idea that nature is of more beauty and importance than man. Romanticist like Caspar David Frederic wanted the viewer to understand that there is a greater force above us, through his paintings he diminished strength of man and demonstrated gods piety through nature. Frederic as an artist referenced Christ and God through landscape; Mountain peak with drifting clouds reflects the Importance of God, serenity, and his wrath. In the painting the mountain takes center stage, this can be the reflection that God is above all strong and untouchable. The clouds surrounding the Mountain give of the idea that although there is power there is also peace within the landscape, this is very much the idea behind God. As the painting moves closer to the viewer there is a change of scenery, the middle trees seem to be in harmony, however, the trees closer to the viewer seem to be lifeless and dead. This could be a reflection of the artist saying that as we move closer to God we shall find peace.
The Cemetery, Caspar David Friedrich, around 1825, From the collection of: New Masters Gallery, Dresden State Art Collections
The Cemetery a painting by Caspar David Frederic is a reflection of the idea that in nature there is something we cannot avoid, death. Frederic allows us to understand through the painting that although death is dark, light will still shine upon us. Unlike many of his paintings this one includes humans interacting with the cemetery, the two persons seem to be peaking into the cemetery fearful of what’s to come, but Frederic manages to minimally use the sun as a ray of light to show us that its ok, death is a part of life. The idea of the painting is to accept nature as it is, if we take a closer look the painting is of darker shade in the beginning but as is goes in deeper the lighting becomes more vibrant. The idea that there is still happiness in something so sad is what the artist was looking for.
Coast View with the Abduction of Europa, Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée), 1645 ?, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
Claude Lorrain was a French painter, draftsman, and printmaker during the 17th century. Lorrain was inspired by nature and often found himself outside painting the countryside at different times of the day. He would frequently include man and nature coexisting in his paintings. This painting illustrates how man uses nature to its advantage. The woman in the image is attempting to ride a bull while the other women surrounding her are collecting flowers. They are picking flowers and using it as a form of fashion by decorating the bull and the woman riding it. Other domesticated animals are grazing the fields near by which shows how man and beast can also coxist with each other. The architecture in the background indicates a significantly large civilization has been established along the coast. The many ships in the background shows how man can thrive in an environment as relentless as the open sea. Baetjer, Katharine. "Claude Lorrain (1604/5?–1682)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (February 2014) -Brian Lehe
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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