Louis Comfort Tiffany is well known around the world for his artful contributions to the decorative arts. He was a leader in the Aesthetic Movement, which swept through North America and England in the late 19th century and touched every sphere of the fine and decorative arts.
It was a time of social and cultural change too, and the aesthetic movement reflected a shift in attitude and perception. For the first time a direct correlation was made between beautiful surroundings and the quality of one's life, and beautiful objects were being championed as fit for everybody and not just for the privileged elite.
One of Tiffany's greatest innovations was in stained glass windows design and construction. His love of nature and appreciation of the spiritual aspects of the natural world led him to create inspirational stained glass windows depicting landscapes, garden and floral designs. Perhaps the finest examples of this work are these, found at New York's Metropolital Museum of Art.
View of Oyster Bay
On the North Coast, we have a fine example of both themes in Tiffany's design: Religious and Nature
at St. Luke's Church. More
In 1984, on a trip to Paris, I visited the Pompidou Center and roamed the high-tech structure with exposed colored pipes, high wide walls of plexiglass, and a vaguely alienating environment hung strewn with modern art and sculpture.
Near the end of my stay, a bit tired from a full day of walking around Paris, I turned a corner and, alone in an enclosed alcove I saw this painting. I swear, I exhaled deeply, an expression of surprise, delight and awe. When I look at reproductions of the painting today I feel nothing. But my memory remains and is one of those peak experiences that defines my life. Do others have these experiences where an intellectual and emotional event is manifested physically? Wilhelm Reich and his disciples would surely say yes. I am unfamiliar with the literature about the psychology of art but I suspect, like with music, the emotional impact of beauty and form is, if not universal, a common human experience. Have you had such an experience?
Anyone unfamiliar with the amazing watercolours British artist- naturalist- explorer Margaret Mee created during her lifetime trasping through the Brazilian rainforest has missed an opportunity to learn what supreme talent, dedicated hard work, love of nature and a bit of wimsy can accomplish.
Margaret Mee (1909-1988) ived and worked in Brazil for 36 years, sketching and painting beautiful and intricate studies of the flamboyant indigenous plants of Amazonia. She mounted at least fifteen expeditions deep into the rainforest often travelling by dug-out canoe with a single Indian guide to observe and collect species of plants in some cases previously unknown. Several species of epiphytesto now bear her name in recoginition of her research of Amazonian flora.
On her final journey to the flooded forests of the Rio Negro Mee fulfilled a long-standing dream --to find and paint the elusive Moonflower a rare night-flowering cactus.
Margaret Mee died tragically in a car crash in England in 1988.
"I know my death will not be the end of my work. Wherever I go I will try to influence those who are destroying our planet, so the earth will have a chance to survive" Margaret Mee in Brazil, 1988
Nathan Walker is a twenty-something Massachusets artist-illustrator commited to celebrating the beauty of the natural world--not just to document it-- but to provoke thought and action in its defense and preservation.
Walker developed his love for nature during his childhood in the forests of New Hampshire. He credits his high school biology teacher with encouraging him to combine his artistic talents with his concern for the planet.
“While art can’t save the world, ideas and actions most certainly can. And since imagery has been used throughout history to disseminate ideas to the populace, today should be no different. It is for this reason that I use art as a means of promoting social and environmental awareness.”