Student Resource

Closeness and simplicity to nature coursework guide

Artists have often imagined humanity living more in harmony with nature – right back to the idea of the Garden of Eden. Looking to nature and simplifying forms, simplifying our lives and simplifying our impacts have all provided artists with materials and subjects.

Gardens and Paradise

Gardens in many cultures represent heaven or paradise. Even in this life, gardens can be a place of simple communion with nature and with others.

Simple forms

Many artists have tried to refine natural forms to their simplest shapes.

Land Art

Art can be made from the land itself. Working with the soil itself to create earthworks, moving and placing natural materials, or simply recording the traces of their time in an environment, these artworks tend to disappear over time, returning to nature.

Die Brücke, Arte Povera, Environmentalism, Land Art, Minimalism and Japanese Zen Philosophy all explore this idea. In the face of the climate emergency, artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Mary Mattingly and John Akomfrah show the urgency and global nature of the changes needed to rebalance our approach to life.

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