Nature Transformed, an intimate exhibition on view at the Norton Simon Museum from October 8, 2004 through February 28, 2005, examines how artists have visualized and celebrated nature over the past 500 years. Curated by the Museum’s Education Department, the exhibit features approximately 15 artworks from the 15th through the 20th centuries. Exhibition highlights include a rare etching by Rembrandt van Rijn of a sea shell (1650), French painter Claude Lorrain’s pastoral Landscape with a Piping Shepherd (1629-32), Barbara Hepworth’s abstract sculpture Two Green Forms (1973) and photographs by Ansel Adams and Manuel Alvarez Bravo from the mid- 20th century.
As subject and muse, the land holds a powerful grip on the artistic imagination. Nature Transformed presents paintings, works on paper, sculpture and photographs that exemplify how artists have been inspired by and interpreted nature. Some works in the exhibition demonstrate artists’ fascination with the dramatic effects of weather and light. Photographic works, such as those by Ansel Adams, capture the land in its purest form, untouched by mankind. Still-lifes, plant studies and religious art in the exhibition, from both Europe and Southeast Asia, bring a symbolic significance that invites contemplation. Nature Transformed balances the grandeur of awe-inspiring vistas with intimate depictions of the natural world.