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David Buckland, Burning Ice

David Buckland, Burning Ice (2004-2005), archival inkjet print of projection on the wall of a glacier [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Nov 3-Mar 16] Courtesy of the artist

Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012

Whatcom Museum
Bellingham WA – Nov 3-Mar 16, 2014

William Parrott, Mount Hood, Crimson Sunrise

William Parrott, Mount Hood, Crimson Sunrise (c. 1895), oil on canvas [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Nov 3-Mar 16]

This large exhibition features an international roster of artists who have documented, rendered and more recently used the frozen regions of our planet as poignant artistic subject matter. Works from over two centuries provide an insightful historical perspective of the polar regions over that time, and show how that viewpoint has shifted in the face of climate change.

Examples of pristine alpine landscapes and renditions of glacial areas from the late 18th century onward capture the sublime beauty of icy environments around the world. Illustrations from early voyages and expeditions are particularly powerful when juxtaposed with recent images that reveal rapidly retreating ice. Nineteenth-century paintings show elegant glaciers in traditionally painted landscapes (by, for example, William Bradford and Albert Beirstadt). Several paintings from the 1930s offer a more stylized vision of frozen environments in Tibet’s Himalayas, Alaska’s Resurrection Bay and elsewhere.

In contrast, the concerns of modern and contemporary artists highlight the reality of these changing regions. Satirical works function as social commentary, such as Alexis Rockman’s 2008 oil painting of Adelie penguins atop a huge block of melting ice, and Jyoti Duwadi’s art-ice installation for the museum’s grounds that was left to melt naturally. Other contemporary pieces offer a majestic perspective on the magnitude of Earth. A notable example: Lita Albuquerque’s 2006 installation Stellar Axis (photographed by Jean de Pomereu), in which the artist transformed a stark white icefield in Antarctica by placing 99 blue spheres in perfect alignment with constellations above.

Allyn Cantor


Len Jenshel, Narsaq Sound, Greenland

Len Jenshel, Narsaq Sound, Greenland (2001), C-print [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Nov 3-Mar 16] Courtesy of the artist and Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California

Christian Houge, Winternight

Christian Houge, Winternight (2001), digital C-print [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Nov 3-Mar 16] Courtesy of the artist and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco and New York

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Ice Lens, Svalbard Archipelago

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Ice Lens, Svalbard Archipelago (2005), archival inkjet print [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Nov 3-Mar 16] Courtesy of the artists


 Thu, Feb 6, 2014