Art of Deforestation: Trees Stripped From Famous Canvases As Provocation

By manipulating famous artworks, a scientist draws parallels between paintings and our everyday world, if we continue cutting on with deforestation.

What would the world look like without the expansive variety of trees that we experience in every day life? Dr. Iain Woodhouse, a Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh University, explored this question by turning to art history. Woodhouse took three famous paintings, John Constable’s The Haywain; Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte; Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun; and using Photoshop, he "deforested" them. The results show the once beautiful landscapes turned barren and melancholy.

Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte before:


By manipulating these images, Woodhouse hopes to draw parallels between what happened to the paintings and our everyday world, if we continue cutting down forests at our current rate. Woodhouse explains, "The challenge we face right now is that the world's forests are under threat. Deforestation accounts for 17 percent of the global greenhouse gas budget. An area of forest the size of a football pitch is destroyed every few seconds."

On his blog, Woodhouse elaborates on the Photoshop idea further:

This project came about as an attempt to visually represent "loss". It's one of the themes that I've been working on with the artist Alice Ladenburg. It is relatively easy to represent the importance of something that is present, but how do you capture or express the importance of something like deforestation that is all about the absence of something? It is not easy to focus a viewer's attention on something that is not there!


John Constable’s The Haywain before:


Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun before:


Want to do something about deforestation? Here's one way to help.

Images courtesy of Forest Planet

via The Hill / Twitter

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