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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The complete Audubon Elephant portfolio of Birds of America

Exhibition ending soon at History Miami.
An amazing show of all 435 prints, arranged as John James Audubon wanted us to see it. He starts with the wild turkey, the quintessential American bird. Every depiction is to scale of the actual bird!
Any artist who paints birds stands in Audubon's shadow. I was seriously awe-struck.
Only towards the end of the series did Audubon realize that it would take him many more years to finish if he continued to depict one species per print, so he started, like this one above, to combine several variations of the species in one print. Here he puts on one branch Bull finches, Finches, Linnet, and Grosbeaks among others! He gets more inventive in his posing.
My favorite, for reasons I can barely articulate, is his American Crow. Perhaps it is the berries, or the tiny nest (is that a crows nest?)... but I believe Audubon really captures the intelligence in his eyes. Sometimes he worked from skins, or a cadaver that he shot earlier in the day, and sometimes he worked from life. I feel like he painted this crow from life. The crow looks like an art critic.
If I were working on my MFA in school I think I would be drawn to study the shadow artists behind the greats- like Dali's Gala, or Gaudi's Jujol, and Audubon's Lehman and Mason. George Lehman, a Swiss landscape artist, and Joseph Mason, a young apprentice who started at the age of thirteen working with Audubon, painted many of Audubon's landscapes or branches, setting up the scene for Audubon to plop in his birds.

Maria Martin also painted some of his backgrounds as well. They are exquisite in themselves.

It is an interesting show- well worth the visit- ends May 31st!
101 west Flagler St, next to the Government center metro stop.

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