FRANS LANTING | DIALOGUES WITH NATURE
This summer the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will present a major retrospective of Frans Lanting’s work. Born in Rotterdam, Lanting has been hailed as one of the great photographers of our time. For more than four decades, he has documented the natural world from the Amazon to Antarctica to promote understanding about the earth through images that convey a passion for nature and a sense of wonder about our living planet.
This exhibition will be the first to show the range and depth of Lanting’s work over the course of his career. It will feature images from five of his signature projects produced over a period of forty years. Lanting’s work is presented as an ongoing dialogue with nature, and this exhibition reveals how those conversations have been influenced by art and literature as much as they have been informed by science, technology, and his own experiences with wildlife and wild places on all seven continents.
The Magic of Reality: Holland
Frans Lanting (b. Rotterdam, 1951) began making images in the 1970s, when he was studying environmental economics at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University. His first photographs were impressions of the seasons in the city’s Kralingse Bos park. Lanting was inspired by magic realism in paintings and literature, and by the work of Japanese haiku poets. His images capture the spare feeling of haikus and a sense of the otherworldly in the natural world.
A World Out of Time: Madagascar
In the 1980s Lanting was one of the first photographers to work in Madagascar after the country ended decades of self-enforced isolation from the West. During extensive fieldwork he documented wildlife and cultural traditions that had never been photographed before, and produced his first major story for National Geographic. His images opened the eyes of the world to the diversity as well as the conflicts of this island continent and fueled conservation efforts to protect Madagascar’s remarkable natural heritage.
Intimate Encounters: Eye to Eye
The photographs in Lanting’s Eye to Eye portfolio, first published in the 1990s, reveal the unique personal aesthetic he brings to wildlife photography, as well as the startling new perspective on animals his images provoke. “Mr. Lanting’s photographs take creatures that have become ordinary and familiar and transform them into haunting new visions,” writes The New York Times. In earlier projects Lanting’s images showed the relationship between animals and their worlds, including the human environment which more than ever shapes their fate today. In Eye to Eye he removed animals from the context in which they live, and brought together species and situations from around the world in order to celebrate the kinship of all animal life.
A Journey Through Time: Life
Life: A Journey Through Time is Frans Lanting’s lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present, expressed through images of the natural world that provide a window on its evolution through time. Produced over a period of seven years and first released in 2006, Lanting’s Life project was also realized as a multimedia symphony with music by American composer Philip Glass. Life is a synthesis of Lanting’s career. From his beginnings as a wildlife photographer pursuing animals one at a time his perspective grew to include their habitats, and in his iconic images, animals became ambassadors for ecosystems. Over time, biodiversity superseded ecosystems as a concept for understanding nature as a network made up of untold numbers of species, and Lanting’s vision expanded to view the collective force of all life on earth as a singular element that shapes our planet.
The Future of Life
Images from Lanting’s project to explore the state of global biodiversity at the turn of the millennium are featured in The Future of Life, along with recent photographs that explore our relationship with a natural world that has been profoundly impacted by humans. Lanting’s images speak to our conflicts with wildlife and the risks to the diversity of life as well as to new discoveries and restoration, and what it means for the fate of life on earth.
Frans Lanting’s influential work has appeared in exhibitions and publications around the world. His books have received awards and acclaim: “No one turns animals into art more completely than Frans Lanting,” writes The New Yorker. Lanting has received top honors from World Press Photo, the title of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award. He has been honored as a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in London and is a recipient of Sweden’s Lennart Nilsson Award. In 2001 H.R.H. Prince Bernhard inducted Lanting as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark to honor his contributions to nature conservation. He serves as an Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund and on the Leadership Council of Conservation International, and he is a Trustee of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Lanting makes his home in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and partner, Chris Eckstrom, an editor, videographer, and former staff writer at National Geographic with whom he collaborates on fieldwork and publishing projects.
Nature is everywhere: in the forest, at the beach, on the street, and always portrayed in a myriad of photographs. Since 1873, Dutch nature lovers have enjoyed caputering the glory of the countryside in print. By bringing together the works of the earliest Dutch nature photographers, the exhibition Hunting with a Camera | Pioneers of Dutch Nature Photography is the very first exhibition of its kind to offer such a complete overview of the many marvels of the diverse Dutch landscape. Visitors can experience nature through the eyes of these photography forerunners and appreciate how important their role was in fighting for conservation. A special selection has been made from over 90,000 historic nature photos that the museum has in its collection, and these will be shown to the public for the first time. Through these exclusive photographs, we can marvel at the inventive photography techniques that were used to capture plants, animals and unique landscapes, some of which are now rare or even extinct in the Netherlands.
The very first photographs of nature Through Hunting with a Camera | Pioneers of Dutch Nature Photography we can experience the magnificence of nature captured on film throughout the Netherlands during the 1900s. These historic images show landscapes where roads were scarce and populated only by walkers, cyclists or horse-drawn carts. The pioneers frequently trained their camera lenses on birds, and over 40 species of bird can be seen in the exhibition including threatened species such as the stone curlew, the great reed warbler, the little bittern and the purple heron. Be surrounded by dozens of sharply focused, beautifully staged photos of flowers and plants in ‘De Tuin van Tepe’ (Tepe Gardens).
Photographing wild animals would be anything but easy during that time, as was apparent from the pioneers’
countless publications and diaries. The photographers disappeared into the wilderness under very basic
conditions, weighed down by the most impractical and heavy equipment. For days they would lie hidden in
bushes, tents or camouflaged huts waiting with their cameras for a special bird or a wild animal to appear. Only once back at home could they see if their images were successful. There was always the possibility of under- or overexposed pictures; they could also discover that the bird had just flown away or that the animal turned its back on the photographer just at the moment suprême.
Call for conservation
In addition to these groundbreaking photographs, the pioneers had another clear goal in mind – to make the
public aware of nature’s beauty and the absolute need to protect it. By educating the public with beautiful images of nature, the photographers hoped to instill an understanding of the importance of conservation. Their efforts were rewarded in 1905 with the establishment of the Vereniging Natuurmonumenten (Dutch Society for Nature Conservation).
In the footsteps of the pioneers
To this day, nature has remained a prevalent and popular subject in photography, which is why the Nederlands Fotomuseum will also be dedicating a small part of the exhibition to contemporary photography. In this exhibition, the museum will not be presenting nature photography in the literal sense of the word, but will show the work of artists and photographers that reflects on how we interact with nature. The exhibition will display recent work by Kim Boske (1978), Charlotte Dumas (1977), Anne Geene (1983), Erik Kessels (1966), and Luuk Wilmering (1957).
Vanuit een dode os een vosje vangen
Rianne van Dijck
15 juni 2016
Wie geen telelens heeft moest slim zijn. Om in de 19de eeuw een vogel, hoog in het nest, of een schuwe ree, verscholen in een dicht bos te fotograferen, had enige creativiteit en een avontuurlijke inslag nodig. Handzame fototoestellen waren er nog niet, dus bouwde een fotograaf een houten toren van een meter of 4 hoog en zeulde zijn zware plaatcamera naar boven. Of hij ging in een bootje naar een nest op het Naardermeer, statief mee, glasnegatieven, lenzen, verrekijker, schuiltentje en rubberen laarzen.
Jacht met de camera - Pioniers van de Nederlandse natuurfotografie in het Nederlands, t/m 4/9 in Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam.
De Britse gebroeders Kearton, zo’n beetje de David Attenboroughs van hun tijd, vroegen hun slager een os te slachten en die uit te hollen. In hun opgezette rund trokken ze de natuur in, om torenvalken en kieviten, herten en vosjes, door een gaatje in de kop van de os te fotograferen.
In het Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam is deze zomer een prachtige expositie te zien over de pioniers van de natuurfotografie. Het museum heeft uit de collectie een selectie gemaakt die het verhaal vertelt van de opkomst van het genre. De foto’s gunnen ons een blik op verdwenen landschappen, uit de tijd dat Nederland ontdekt dat de eigen natuur, ondanks het ontbreken van bergen en snelstromende rivieren de moeite waard is om te koesteren. En te beschermen, want door verstedelijking en industrialisatie moest steeds vaker het „liefelijke, zwijgende rijk der planten” plaatsmaken voor de „woelenden en tierenden mensch”, zoals Frederik van Eeden in 1886 schreef.
De historische foto’s worden aangevuld met hedendaags werk van onder andere Charlotte Dumas (wolven), Kim Boske (bossen) en Erik Kessels, die foto’s van herten kocht van jagers die ‘motion detection’-camera’s gebruiken bij de jacht.