“It makes me think of that awful day…” The Natural World in the Anthropocene

Jan 18, 2020 - Dec 30, 2020
Machaver Gallery

Artists have long trained their eyes on the natural world, creating art that offers visions of nature and humankind’s place within it. For contemporary practitioners, this means grappling with an environment deeply marked by human intervention. Rapid climate change, mass extinction, and ecological shifts brought on by the burning of fossil fuels and disruptive development have led some to term our current geological epoch the Anthropocene, or age of man. While the term is flawed – for example, it implies that all people are equally responsible for the current crisis – the overarching idea of a new set of environmental realities resonates with many artists. The works featured in this exhibition suggest that there is no such thing as an untouched, unmediated natural world. Some artists evoke a sense of melancholy and loss, as seen in Alexis Rockman’s homage to the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot, the iguaca. Others, such as Edward Burtynsky and the Boyle Family, offer detached explorations of the sleek geometry of a mined quarry or the synthetic materials that have emerged from our human-centric environment, respectively.

Organized by Austin Losada, Mellon Post-Graduate Intern, and Hannah Shaw, Graduate Curatorial Assistant

Edward Burtynsky

Carrara Marble Quarries #21, Carrara, Italy, 1993

Chromogenic print

40 x 50 in. (101.6 x 127 cm)

Gift of Lang Baumgarten