For as long as we’ve known art, we’ve known that natural surroundings have been a beloved source of inspiration for artists. The world has been the motif behind the creation of masterpieces throughout history. In honor of Earth Day, we’re diving deeper into the artistic value of our planet, art as a political statement and the creative movement of eco-art.
A Sociopolitical Muse
As early as Romanticism in 1980-1850, the sublimity of nature and its power to connect people has been celebrated by artists through paintings inspired by nature. As the Industrial Revolution took place, a concern towards the beauty and wellbeing of nature was heightened because of the negative impacts on the environment.
Single use pandemic wave by Kaisla Laranta: “Part of exhibition Trash & Crystals in Galeria Mutuo 2021. Shells are picked from the Barceloneta beach on the first day after full lockdown”
Artists depicted the effects of industrial pollution to the world in their paintings, especially during the era of Realism in 1948-1900 with the continuation of environmental degradation.
In the latest figurative painting “The Cypress” by Pablo Salvans, we see the relationship between nature and construction. As a criticism against corporal violations of nature and the abandonment of life caused by industrial labour, Salvans portrays working factories on these deserted scenes where there are no signs of real human activity.
Of course, abstraction has also been a medium that expresses nature through the most lucid forms and shapes.
Both Expressionism and Surrealism, which arrived during the first half of the 1900s, are rooted in environments filled with social conflict and filled with the condemnation of political choices that were relevant during that time.
The 20th century is marked by the idea that art is a medium of self-expression for people to understand the world and communicate their perceptions. Today, art is not only an expression of selfhood or a creatively translated observation, many artists also see art as a statement on social and political issues.
As we can see, art can be more than just beautiful, it can uplift and communicate environmental issues and topics. Art reminds us of the beauty in nature but also the sociopolitical threats and ecological damages.
Natural Beauty & Desire
As time went on, artists created more beautified and hopeful portrayals of the natural world with the rise of Impressionism in 1865-1885 and later. Of course, we all know Claude Monet to be the grand impressionist magician, who truly captured the emotional bond between him and his natural surroundings by playing with the lights in the different sceneries. We also know that Vincent Van Gogh was greatly inspired by gardens, flowers and nocturnal surroundings in his art.
In the painting “Human in Nature”, Oana Mazarache describes landscapes as a theme that she constantly returns to because the natural elements are a source of inspiration for her mind. By painting a forest, she’s feeding her desire to be close to nature and escape the polluted air and noisy aspects of the crowded big city she’s in. “The moments when my surroundings don’t allow me to go to the forest, I bring the forest to myself through painting”, Mazarache explains.
What is environmental art?
Environmental art is a wide term that involves different styles and types of creative relationships with nature. However, the modern movement has four fundamental purposes:
1) Raise public awareness on environmental problems through a range of different artistic disciplines and mediums to focus on nature
2) Encourage research and improve the collective understanding of natural phenomena through scientific illustrations
3) Promote the use of environmentally friendly materials like sand, branches, leaves, rocks, feathers etc. to make works of arts
4) Respect the environment by making art with biodegradable and recycled materials that don’t cause damage and become part of their surroundings
Helena Ceva is the talented artist of “Broken Heart”, a 3D handmade sculpture of a heart now available on Gallerima. This piece of pop-art consists of a beautiful heart-like shape, which can be displayed either in separation or in union, was created from recycled bottle caps of a famous international beer called “Estrella Damm”.
“Flower Planter” by Caroline Zimbalist consists of botanical hand made sculptures intended to embody an organic shape with vivid colors and a smooth texture that make a perfect vase for greenery and florals.
Artists are freer and less restricted than ever. Art can contribute to perspectives that offer insight, change and appreciation in the world. When words aren’t enough to defend our planet or communicate its natural beauty, art works as an eye opener and visual guide to the mind. Artists today are interested in environmental research and activism but also devoted to bringing themselves closer to nature.
We’ve discussed different themes in the relationship between nature and art – from the history of nature-oriented artists to the political purpose of art movements in our modern day. Artists have a huge role in diversifying the meaning and use of nature, artists reveal through art that the world is an extension of us. Therefore, if we love nature, we love ourselves. If we love ourselves, we love nature.
To feel even more inspired by the role of nature in the art world, read about the meaning of trees in art or the artistic use of flowers to convey deeper meanings
Happy Earth Day!