Online Viewing Room, April 28th – July 15th, 2021

New York, NY. Zeit Contemporary Art is pleased to present Seeing Nature, an online viewing
room showcasing modern, postwar, and contemporary works related to being in, looking at,
and interacting with nature. These artists represent their personal emotions and associations
regarding the natural world; as revealed, the experience can result in a range of feelings,
alternately joy, awe, wonder, peace, spiritual resonance, or even fear. As nature also invites
introspection, many artists included use nature as a way to deepen into their subjective world.
Also, in light of the current climate change crisis as well as cultural and geographical specificity,
embracing representations of nature is a way of taking a political stand. As such, this exhibition
aims to present a variety of mediums, from works on paper to photography, that are engaged
with the experience of nature from Modernism to our contemporary world.

Depictions of nature are inextricable from the purpose of art to reflect on beauty, justice and
humankind. However, it was only with Romanticism and, on its heels, Impressionism, that
artists’ personal emotions and subjectivities regarding nature came into play. Impressionism
was inspired by the joy of being in nature and sought to elevate the genre; the movement is
marked by an emphasis on painting en plein air with spontaneous, rapid brushstrokes in order
to capture the changing effects of light and color.

Paul Gauguin is particularly notable in that while he started out painting as an Impressionist, he ultimately shifted to use color expressively in his landscapes. He was an important precursor for Modernism, and postwar painting in North America is predominantly characterized by abstraction inspired by nature. Joan Mitchell, one of the artists included in this project and an exponent of the second generation of Abstract Expressionism, stated: “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me—and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed.”
Artists’ depictions of their experience in nature continue to have a political dimension.

While Ansel Adams was so fervently passionate concerning nature’s beauty his experiences bordered
on spiritual, his work also has a political component in that he captured dwindling areas of
wilderness in order to extol his fellow Americans to protect and preserve the landscape he so
loved. The work of other artists is also a statement regarding the difficulty of mediating one’s
identity with regard to gender, identity, and sexuality, while still rooted in nature. For instance,
Bryson Rand, believes that “…there’s a connection between the incredible beauty and strength
the planet holds and that queer people hold and historically have been able to maintain despite
whatever sort of nonsense was happening around them.”

As this online viewing room reveals, artistically, human subjectivity concerning nature has a
broad range. While some artists carry on the modernist legacy of representing their delight and
love for nature, others utilize the representation of nature as a way to explore identity in
today’s world. Ansel Adams perhaps sums up the aims of Seeing Nature best: “The moods and
qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp
them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit.”

Ansel Adams, Martín Chirino, Paul Gauguin, Benita Koch-Otte, Robert Mapplethorpe, Joan
Mitchell, Bryson Rand, Res

©2021 Zeit Contemporary Art

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