Art and artists have played important roles in shaping awareness of the environment and the landscape in the United States. In the nineteenth-century, landscape paintings by Hudson River School artists illustrated and inspired our country’s desire to cherish, revel in, and use the environment. While in the twentieth century, art and the environmental movement became linked in defining wilderness and the politics of preserving it.
If you are interested in learning more about the many connections between artists and the environment, join us at 11 a.m. this Saturday for the special lecture, Land and Liberty: Environmentalism in American Art. During this free program, Dr. Todd Kerstetter, associate professor of history at Texas Christian University, will use works in the Carter's permanent collection of painting and photographs to illustrate the development of environmental thought from the 1830s through the twentieth-century environmental movement.
This second installment of Photo of the Week celebrates Earth Day with photographs by two major American landscape photographers, Frank Gohlke and Robert Glenn Ketchum. Both have recently had exhibitions at the Carter featuring works that deal with environmental issues.
Frank Gohlke, Tire, the Sudbury River, Framingham, Massachusetts, September 1991, dye coupler print, © Frank Gohlke
Robert Glenn Ketchum, "I Like the Look of a Clearcut..." Attributed to a Forest Supervisor at a Public Meeting, dye destruction print, Gift of Advocacy Arts Foundation, © 1986 Robert Glenn Ketchum
There are some good ideas for reducing your environmental footprint over at EarthDay.Gov and a timeline of environmental progress since the first Earth Day in 1970 on the EPA website. If you don't like the look of a clearcut, do something nice for the environment today.
Two colleagues just popped by my office to tell me to run upstairs and see the new painting entitled Home by the Lake, 1852 by Frederic Church. The painting is on loan from a private collection, and just happened to appear in the museum’s blue galleries today!
In its current location, the painting is part of a trio of artworks (another by Church and one by Church’s teacher Thomas Cole) that show settlers settling in the great American wilderness– cozy log cabin on lakeside property with mountain views included.
The label copy informs us that a nineteenth-century critic referred to this painting as “a charming little poem in itself.” Will you twenty-first century critics agree? Stop by the museum sometime soon and take a look for yourself.
Because I manage the database where all the cataloging information and digital images of the collection are stored, I get to see thousands of photographs every week that are not currently on view. I'm starting a new series of weekly, thematic blog posts to highlight some of the interesting images I come across in my day-to-day work. So without further ado, here are my first selections...
Charles Weidner, Fleeing from the Burning City, April 18, 1906, San Francisco, California, halftone postcard, ca. 1907
Arnold Genthe, San Francisco, April 18th, 1906, 10am, gelatin silver print, 1906
This Saturday happens to mark the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. These are two photographs of the San Francisco earthquake aftermath taken 103 years ago this week. The earthquake not only made Arnold Genthe famous, but had a lasting impact on another photographer: it broke the nose of four-year-old Ansel Adams.
Come back next Wednesday for the second installment of Photos of the Week!
"Perhaps more than any other artifact, the photograph has engaged our thoughts about time and eternity. I say “perhaps,” because the history of photography spans less than 200 years. How many of us have been “immortalized” in a newspaper, a book or a painting vs. how many of us have appeared in a photograph?" -- Errol Morris, Whose Father Was He?
You have to read Whose Father Was He?, a fascinating five-part series about the fate of a civil war soldier and a photograph of his children over at the New York Times. One of about 8000 casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, a soldier was found without any identification. He did, however, have an ambrotype photograph of his three young children in his pocket. The series chronicles the efforts to locate the soldier's family, and what has become of them in the ensuing 140 years.
I am by no means a civil war buff, but the story was so moving that I found myself looking forward to each installment of the story this week. The Carter has a good number of 19th-century portrait photographs, many of which depict long-dead people that no has been able to identify, and probably never will. When I work with these images, I always wonder about these people's stories and it makes me a little sad to know that they are essentially lost. I loved reading in this NYT series about the historian who went to great lengths to study the life of this soldier (and also some interesting tangents into whaling, orphanages, and Mayan astroastronomy).
Some of my favorite portraits of anonymous sitters from our collection. What are their stories? We'll probably never know.
[Unidentified infantry colonel], daguerreotype, ca. 1847
[Woman and child], daguerreotype, ca. 1850s
[Young woman in dark dress], tintype, ca. 1863-1869