We highlight the best in environmental art; including both painters and writers. We give you the low down on the green figures within the creative world, and what makes them so special. They all seem to have tireless energy, genuine passion for natural beauty and appreciate life’s often overlooked simple hidden wonders.
Joseph Beuys (pictured above) – sculptor and installation artist
The hat wearing conceptual German environmental artist is an inspiration to artists and environmentalists alike. Many of his creations have environmental themes – notably “I love America and America loves me” where he spends 8 hours over three days locked in a room with a coyote. He produced possibly the most eco art work ever with “7000 Oaks” where he and his assistants both highlighted and regenerated the poor environment by planting 7000 Oak trees around the city of Kassel. However, Beuys makes this list not only for his art, but also for his work towards environmental action. He helped setup Germany’s Green Party, and was elected as a candidate for election in the European Parliament. He spent much of the profit from his art on conservation causes, and protested for environmental matters all throughout his life.
Thoreau – Writer (1817 – 1862)
The American transcendentalist nature writer, inspiration to everyone that has ever thought of nature writing or ecology in the last 100 years, he remains a voice of reason.
Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify
That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?
Typical Thoreau quotes, emphasising his stand point that the more rewarding pastimes are often the most basic. A rhetoric speaker of unusual common sense, fearlessly out spoken and well ahead of his time – he is arguably the person who forged the main stream back bone of Environmentalism more than any other.
Annie Dillard – Writer
A person that always aims to get as much out of everyday as possible – she teaches, writes poems essays and novels and draws and paints. Her most famous novel, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – a purposely slow paced book paying attention to the often overshadowed wonders of the natural world, she brings the reader into the reality and daily life of insects and frogs. Dillard is a much needed opposition against the impatient and throw away culture the seeps through much of today’s world.
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
John Constable – Painter
Painting in a time when artists were expected to produce portraits and depict religious scenes, Constable went against the grain and painted beautiful and wild landscapes. He was exceptionally talented and would have become wealthy as well as being admitted entrance into the Royal academy early on in his career, if not for his love and burning desire to capture the rugged atmospheric landscape. At the time the idea environmentalism may not have existed, however many who gaze at his paintings maybe left with a longing for loose natural scenery and become aware of the slow pace of life and that used to exist prior to the industrial revolution.
Andy Goldsworthy – sculptor/photographer
Using the environment to make his works – most are of a temporary nature and so a photograph or video is the only way to preserve them long term. Sometimes it seems sad that his work will melt away or be washed into the sea, but this is the real beauty of his work – allowing people to appreciate the moment. He emphasises sustainability in his works – as they leave no trace on the landscape apart from the occasional cluster of flowers, plants, or mound of stones. Often his works are huge and require many people to make them and as such are full of community spirit. A true environmental artist, Goldsworthy is a leader in the field today.