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Studying Nature

Slowing down to look closely at nature is an art. By examining the colors and shapes of birds or flowers, observing the effects of light at different moments, or noticing the ways a landscape can change over time, artists find inspiration in the natural world. This chapter introduces artists who are captivated by nature and study it closely.

John Constable depicted his native English countryside with fresh attention to atmosphere. Martin Johnson Heade and John James Audubon traveled widely to document birds in their natural habitats. Claude Monet cultivated his private gardens as subjects to contemplate, painting them in changing seasons. Georgia O’Keeffe found beautiful abstractions in the details of a single flower. Andy Goldsworthy uses natural materials to create sculptures that often become part of nature.

As you study the artists in this chapter, think about how artists help us see the natural world in new ways.

John Constable



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Martin Johnson Heade and John James Audubon

1819–1904 (Heade); 1785–1851 (Audubon)


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Claude Monet



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Georgia O'Keeffe



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Andy Goldsworthy

born 1956


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Download PDFs:

Edgar Degas (8MB)

Alexander Calder (6MB)

Dan Flavin (3MB)

Martin Puryear (6MB)