HARTFORD, CONN.- The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
presents An Artificial Wilderness: The Landscape in Contemporary Photography, on view now through January 5, 2014. An Artificial Wilderness explores mans relationship with the natural landscape in the forms of construction, destruction, and intervention through non-traditional, altered landscapes from around the world. Featuring works by 16 prominent photographers dating from the 1960s to the present, An Artificial Wilderness is the Wadsworths first photography exhibition in nearly 10 years and pulls almost exclusively from the museums permanent collection (with the exception of one private loan).
An Artificial Wilderness includes work by Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Claire Beckett, Frank Breuer, Edward Burtynsky, Olafur Eliasson, Andy Goldsworthy, Rosemary Laing, Louise Lawler, Ana Mendieta, Ed Ruscha, Sandy Skoglund, Doug and Mike Starn, and James Welling.
The exhibitions title borrows a phrase from the W. H. Auden poem, The Shield of Achilles (1952), referring to modernsocietys passive stance toward the decline of human values, and its disregard for the physical world, said Patricia Hickson, Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition curator. Exemplifying this idea at its most extreme, Burtynsky captures the worlds largest accumulation of discarded rubber tires; Baltz confronts an uncommon, mundane subjectan urban parking lotand finds beauty; Laing documents a eucalyptus forest seamlessly laid with a floral wall-to-wall carpet to symbolize the domestication of the natural environment.
An Artificial Wilderness includes work by influential artists that has rarely, if ever, been on view. In particular, a selection of Typologies by the Bechers―founders of the Düsseldorf School of Photography―will be exhibited for the first time since the museum acquired the works in 1969. In addition, the Starn Twins Yellow Seascape with Film and Wood Blocks―also the cover image of alternative rock band REMs 1991 album Out of Time―is on view for the first time in nearly 20 years.