Monday, October 10, 2011

David Holt "Ornithology" paintings in Loop show, October 15-November 6, 2011

David Holt, studio photograph, August 2011
As part of my Oct. 15-Nov. 6, 2011 exhibition I am completing several paintings based on the types of ornithological displays found in museums of natural history. Much of my work from this past decade has played with the grid-like arrangements of preserved specimens of plants, fossils, bones, minerals, mammals, archaeological fragments, and birds in museum display cases and storage drawers. I find the interplay between the organic shapes of the specimens and their rectilinear containers affords interesting compositional possibilities. Morphological comparisons between the displayed/depicted specimens also invite close observations that result in visual pleasure and surprise. In addition, I am fascinated by the historical developments of the whole enterprise of the representation, collection, categorization, and display of examples of “nature” and “culture” in both Eastern and Western traditions, including early engraved atlases and encyclopedias, European W√ľnderkammer, and modern museums.  

David Holt, Ornithology in 3 Rows, acrylic/linen, 2011      
Royal Alberta Museum Collection

Ornithology (red), acrylic/canvas, 2011    
Smithsonian Museum Collection      
Over the years I have been fortunate to have lived and worked near wonderful museums such as the Florence Museum of Natural History (La Specola),
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History , the American Museum of Natural History, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, and now the Royal Ontario Museum  A big influence on my work has also been David Freedberg’s book ,“The Eye of the Lynx”, about the role of visual images in the early history of Italy’s first major scientific society
My ornithological paintings will be accompanied by paintings of landscapes and other subjects from natural history in my upcoming loop exhibition. These and other paintings can be seen on my website: