|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 Wünderkammer, and modern museums.
|David Holt, Ornithology in 3 Rows, acrylic/linen, 2011|
|Royal Alberta Museum Collection|
|Ornithology (red), acrylic/canvas, 2011|
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) http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/museum_of_natural_history.html,
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History http://www.mnh.si.edu/ , the American Museum of Natural History http://www.amnh.org/, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem http://www.teylersmuseum.eu/index.php?item=1&lang=en, the Naturalis Museum in Leiden http://www.naturalis.nl/en/, and now the Royal Ontario Museum http://www.rom.on.ca//. 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 http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/E/bo3618933.html.
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: https://sites.google.com/site/davidholtpaintings/