The Art of Natural History
January 29, 2015 – March 15, 2015
- This event has passed.
Trident Gallery is pleased to announce The Art of Natural History, an exhibition reprising last year’s winter partnership with the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon in Canton, Massachusetts, the home of Mass Audubon’s remarkable collection of art.
This year’s exhibition features eight exquisitely detailed watercolor paintings by Robert Verity Clem (1933–2010) from the Museum’s collection of over thirty. Six of Clem’s paintings were part of Winter Meditations, including two never before seen in public. Trident Gallery donated frames in order to display them. This year’s selection of eight includes the Northern Shrike shown last year and a new painting never seen before in public, a gouache of Sanderlings also painted in the late 1960s and sharing the minimalist aesthetic of Northern Shrike. Here is one heartfelt tribute to Clem which gives some idea of his reputation among natural history artists.
Also on display from the Museum’s collection will be four small sculptures by Larry Barth (b. 1957). Larry Barth is considered by many to be the preeminent contemporary bird sculptor. A brief bio is here.
This year again, by popular demand, artist Sandy McDermott will lead a drawing workshop on Drawing at Trident Gallery on drawing wildlife from nature 1–3pm Friday, Feburary 27th. See below for more information
And once again, complementing the Museum’s collection within Trident Gallery will be works of art for sale: a selection of meticulous and fascinating drawings and new photography by Charlie Carroll, watercolors of birds by Marion Hall, and drawings by Gabrielle Barzaghi and Susan Erony.
Director Matthew Swift has curated The Art of Natural History with two organizing ideas. The first is Charles Darwin’s famous closing paragraph of On The Origin of Species, in which the figure of an “entangled bank” testifies eloquently to the extraordinary complexity and interdependency of the natural world:
It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
The second organizing idea is for the art in the exhibition to straddle the boundary between documentation and interpretation of the natural world, between dispassionate observation and emotional responses (such as seeing “grandeur in this view of life”), between rationality and human desires. What first appears to be a boundary is on closer inspection a zone, a liminal territory in which all that we may discover reveals something essential about human nature—the territory in common of art, theology, and science.