06 Nov, 2020
We are always informed about alarming predictions for the environment. Given this scenario, the idea of sustainable development suggests that each social segment disseminates environmental awareness messages and does everything possible to ensure that the impact of human development is less harmful to nature.
The artistic segment started its mobilization for sustainability with the Environmental Art movements in the 60s. During the counter-culture period, this group of artists promoted environmental activism based on art, criticizing social behavior and consumption patterns.
Artistic movements related to Environmental Art, such as Upcycling, Art Povera, Art-in-nature, and Land Art, are still relevant today. In addition to being fundamental to broaden the debate on environmental awareness, these artists’ works of art can even be part of some urgent issues’ solutions.
Are you already curious to know more about the people who have used art to support environmental activism? In this article, you will find a list of essential Environmental Art artists. We are sure you will love to know more about their messages and techniques. But before that, let’s explore the elements of an Environmental Art project.
How to identify Environmental Art artwork?
An artistic movement is characterized by a common philosophy or concept present in the work of different artists. The primary purposes of Environmental Art are to suggest other ways of relating to nature and art.
Environmental Art questions our living standards, production, and consumption processes based on unusual choices for art. The materials, tools, and disposal locations chosen for an Environmental Art piece or intervention necessarily communicate a message of activism or attempt to solve an environmental problem.
It is also important to note that Environmental Art is a broad term that involves different artistic expressions. Therefore, each of these artistic movements developed its own elements, languages, and aesthetic approaches. Thus let's talk about the characteristics that all these movements have in common.
Environmental Art pieces are usually composed of two possible materials, natural elements or waste discarded by man. The natural ingredients can be large plantations, rocks, or lakes as in Land Art or leaves, stones, and puddles as in Art-in-nature. The waste is recycled or transformed into works of art in movements such as Upcycling and Art Povera.
Environmental Art often differs from the idea that artwork is collectible and can only be exhibited in museums and galleries. Depending on the message you want to convey, works from this movement are usually present in places that promote the interaction of man with nature (such as a park or a lake) or can alert or solve an environmental problem (such as any street or the edge of a polluted river).
Another vital feature of Environmental Art works is their criticism of the unrestrained consumption of all types of products, even art. This characteristic is present in pieces made by recycling prematurely discarded materials or ephemeral works that can only be consumed through photographs or videos due to the environment’s natural cycles.
Although the emergence of Environmental Art came from the combination of minimalist and conceptual techniques in countries like the United States, it can and should be present worldwide. Each country faces its own challenges to achieve sustainable development, and local artists are essential parts of these processes.
Do you already think you can identify an Environmental Art piece? Perhaps studying the work of some artists can help with this journey. Check out this list of artists who have combined art with ecological activism we have prepared for you.
Who are the environmental art artists
Finally, here is the list of artists who stand out for their Environmental Art work. Remember that now is the time to use your new knowledge about this artistic movement. So pay attention mainly to how each of them used their work to generate social impact and visibility for environmental causes.
The American photographer Chris Jordan criticizes consumerism with shocking photos. He composes his incredible photographs by rearranging everyday objects, such as bottle caps, lamps, and aluminum cans. One of his best-known works is “Plastic Cups,” an image made up of 1 million plastic cups, the same number used on American airline flights every six hours.
The Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo is mainly known for her project “Melting Men,” a worldwide urban intervention that exposes hundreds of ice figures to address the effects of climate change. In 2009, for example, Azevedo teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund and placed 1,000 ice figures on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt Square. The installation was scheduled to correspond with the launch of the WWF report on Arctic warming.
Andy Goldsworthy is a British artist known for creating beautiful outdoor sculptures from natural materials, including petals, leaves, snow, ice, stones, and branches. One of Goldsworthy's few permanent works is the work “Stone River.” This snake-shaped sculpture, built with 128 tons of sandstone recovered from San Francisco buildings’ rubble, overturned by earthquakes in 1906 and 1989, can be seen at Stanford University.
Sayaka Ganz is a Japanese sculptor known for her beautiful sculptures of animals made from recycled materials. Inspired by the Shinto belief that objects have spirits and suffer from being discarded, Ganz started collecting discarded materials such as toys, furniture, and household items. In pieces like "Aquarium," she attributes new meanings to objects based on colors and frames.
Brazilian plastic artist Vik Muniz, known for his large portraits made from garbage, became world-famous after the documentary Waste Land’s nomination for an Oscar in 2011. The film portrays how the artist's work helped to bring visibility to the problem of inadequate waste disposal and changed workers’ lives at the Jardim Gramacho landfill (Rio de Janeiro), the largest open-air landfill in the world at the time.
Another famous Brazilian in the Environmental Art movement is Eduardo Srur. His work has a strong activist aspect and aims mainly to alert the population to the impact of urban lifestyle on nature. In one of his best-known interventions, Srur installed giant plastic bottle-shaped sculptures alongside the Tietê River in São Paulo. The sculptures were on display for two months, seen by 60 million people, and, by the end of the exposition, they were used to produce backpacks donated to public school students.
These are just a few examples, but can you already see how many artists have been working to transform our planet into a more sustainable and conscious place? Now make sure to explore the many other artists who have used their talents as tools for ecological activism!
Throughout our latest blog posts, we have explored the various connections between art and the environment. We have shown that art has continuously been used as a tool for environmental activism. The work of these artists is fundamental to understanding the transforming power of art in our society.
One of the most exciting parts of studying these artists’ work is understanding how each element of their projects is connected to major global events, issues that have been debated, and the population’s lifestyle. This factor shows how art reflects the spirit of a historical moment.
Here at Timelinefy, we believe that this perspective is fundamental for thinking about art, culture, and history. With our timelines, you can study more about your favorite subject by understanding its connection to other important events. What is the first timeline you will explore?