Eliot Porter: In the Realm of Nature
November 23, 2012 - January 4, 2013
“It has been said that wilderness is a luxury, a commodity that man will be forced to dispense with as his occupancy of the earth approaches saturation. If this happened, he is finished. Wilderness must be preserved; it is a spiritual necessity. Even though few may visit wilderness areas they remain an open back door, a safety valve for those who never enter them.”
In honor of the new publication, In the Realm of Nature, by Paul Martineau of the J. Paul Getty, Scheinbaum and Russek is pleased to present an exhibition of the same title.
Porter has long been known as a pioneer of nature and color photography. As a young boy he gained an appreciation for the natural world through the influence of his father. Porter recollected “As a small boy on spring afternoons after school was out, poking into bushes, scouring wood lots and climbing trees looking for nests, I learned a little about birds and plants,” he later recalled. “At the same time I acquired something more significant, though intangible, through these experiences; a feeling for the life out of doors, a sympathy with the feel and smell of the spring woods; not dead knowledge, but knowledge made real by the appreciation of life as a virile, going concern.” It was that sympathy, and the gift of a brownie camera, that led him to photograph the details of the natural world with his distinct eye.
In photographing nature Porter used his camera to move beyond the straight forward picture of nature. Often times moving closer to gain a detail that so many would miss at first or even second glance. In his work one can begin to see the life in nature, the minutia that creates the whole of the experience. Porter assembles the natural world in a puzzle-like manner, making each image a piece which helps to create a larger understanding of the Realm of Nature. As Paul Martineau so eloquently stated, “If all photographs of nature are abstractions because they represent only human visions of it, then what can these photographs tells us about the man who made them? If we look intently, carefully, we may see the spirit of their maker; his fascination with the biological and ecological aspects of the natural world, his passion for beauty and harmony, and his hopes for mankind.”