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Art Through Time: A Global View

The Natural World Compare: Does Art Influence the Way We View the Natural World?

Suijin Shrine and Massaki on Sumida River from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Suijin Shrine and Massaki on Sumida River from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Artist / Origin: Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Region: East Asia
Date: Edo Period, 1856
Period: 1800 CE – 1900 CE
Material: Woodblock print
Medium: Prints, Drawings, and Photography
Dimensions: H: 13 3/8 in. (34 cm.), W: 9 in. (22.8 cm)
Location: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Credit: © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK/Bridgeman Art Library

Falls of the Yosemite

Falls of the Yosemite
Artist / Origin: Eadweard Muybridge (British, emigrated to the US, 1830–1904)
Region: North America
Date: 1872–1873
Period: 1800 CE – 1900 CE
Material: Albumen print
Medium: Prints, Drawings, and Photography
Dimensions: H: 21 ¼(54 cm.), W: 16 ¾ in. (42.5 cm.)
Location: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Credit: Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Harrison A. Augur

Does art influence the way we view the natural world?

Landscapes can offer vicarious travel through the physical world, transport us through association to our individual and collective pasts, or entice us to go places. At the same time, they are able to record our experience of a landscape at a certain moment, thereby allowing us to revisit that place and time at some point in the future. Landscapes like Hiroshige’s Suijin Shrine or Muybridge’s Falls of Yosemite, thus, become repositories of memory.

Questions to Consider

  • Both Hiroshige and Muybridge present us with views of mountains. How does each position the viewer in relationship to the mountain in question? How does this impact your response to the work?
  • These works were made to depict natural sites at popular tourist destinations. How do you think such views might have encouraged more people to visit these spots? Why do you think that visitors would have wanted to own images depicting sites they had already visited?
  • Today, people often travel with cameras, capturing the natural wonders they encounter on their journeys. Why do we take such pictures? Do you think that our habit of picture-taking influences the way we actually look at natural scenery? To what extent do you think cultural representations influence the way we approach the natural world?

Series Directory

Art Through Time: A Global View

Credits

Produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. 2009.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-888-2