Wonders of the Universe: 10 Captivating Artworks Inspired by Flora and Fauna, From David Yarrow’s breath-taking photography of wildlife to...
July 13, 2021

Wonders of the Universe: 10 Captivating Artworks Inspired by Flora and Fauna

From David Yarrow’s breath-taking photography of wildlife to Damien Hirst’s iconic arthropod arrangements, we consider works by artists inspired by the sheer wonder of nature.

 

With the wet weather finally abating, there seems no better time to go outside and appreciate the all-encompassing beauty of nature. Whether you are taking a trip to your local park or are lucky enough to be travelling further afield, with the height of summer approaching, nature is at its peak. We take a look at a range of artworks depicting flowers, plants and all things wildlife, so you can experience the very best of nature, all in one place.


 

 YAYOI KUSAMA, THREE FLOWERS (III), 1992

Internationally renowned for her pioneering pop works, much of Kusama’s oeuvre is inspired by nature. From her giant pumpkins to her polka dot flowers, the artist’s work is peppered with references to nature. Although central to her practice, Kusama’s relationship with the natural world has gone largely unexplored, until now. Exhibiting until the end of October, Kusama: Cosmic Nature, an exhibition exploring Kusama’s eternal love for wildlife, is showing at New York Botanical Garden and will examine her fascination with plants for the first time.


 

DAMIEN HIRST, INFERNO (LENTICULAR), 2009

Based on his ‘Entomology Series’, Inferno is a print depicting a kaleidoscopic arrangement of vivid insects including beetles, moths and butterflies. Hirst is famed for his taxidermic arrangements, often taking real specimens like insects, cows and even sharks and transforming them into artwork. Although controversial to some, it was Hirst’s animal assemblages that first won him critical acclaim and while Inferno is not comprised of real insects, the lenticular printing process of the work allows the surface to capture light, meaning the artwork magnificently shimmers as if it were the casing of a real beetle.


 

DAVID YARROW, AFRICA, 2018

One of David Yarrow’s most celebrated photographs, Africa depicts the late African elephant, Tim. Considered one of the world’s largest ‘tuskers’, Tim lived in Amboseli National Park in Kenya until passing in 2020. The location of many, if not all, of Yarrow’s elephant photographs, Amboseli is home to over 1,500 elephants. Capturing the pure majesty of the species, on Africa Yarrow noted ‘I will always treasure this image and I doubt I will ever take a more powerful portrait of either an elephant or East Africa’.


 

TAKASHI MURAKAMI, GARDEN (WHITE), 2018

Taking a seemingly more light-hearted approach to his depiction of nature, Murakami is known for his vibrant renders of anthropomorphic flowers. His multicoloured motif can be seen across his paintings, prints, sculpture and in brand collaborations all over the globe. The inspiration behind the iconic design stemmed from the artist’s early studies of Nihonga, a traditional style of Japanese painting. Attempting to paint flowers in this tradition, Murakami settled on his own version and thus the Flowers motif was born.


 

MARC QUINN, AT THE FAR EDGES OF THE UNIVERSE #1, 2010

Marc Quinn’s artistic practice is an interrogation of nature’s cyclical pattern of life and death, heightening the natural beauty and wonder of flora by capturing it at its prime. In 2000, Quinn first conceived the idea of Garden, the freezing of a whole allotment of flowers in low viscosity silicon oil held at -20°C. Created a decade later, At The Far Edges Of The Universe can be seen, in many ways, as an extension of this concept. Gathering flowers from across the globe, Quinn photographed them together, taking them out of their native environment then saturating the colours to give an otherworldly feel.


 

BRAN SYMONDSON, PAPILLON PREVAILS, 2015

A former UK special agent, throughout his career Bran Symondson has been a soldier, a war photographer and artist. In 2012, Symondson launched his show ‘AKA Peace’, an exhibition that saw famous artists like Damien Hirst and Anthony Gormley decorate decommissioned AK47’s. Taking an object of fear and transforming it into ‘something of beauty and intrigue’, each weapon has its own unique narrative. Papillon Prevails speaks to the beauty and fragility of nature, transforming destruction into life.


 

DAVID YARROW, THE CAVE, 2019

Photographed in 2019, The Cave is one of Yarrow’s most striking images. Taken in the sweltering heat of Ranthambore, India, Yarrow’s depiction of ‘tiger 57’ captures the regal essence of the species. Emerging from a cave into sunlight, only the animal’s face is illuminated, with the contrasting hues of the feline’s striped coat heightened by Yarrow’s signature black and white film. With less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild, The Cave captures an encounter that is as rare as it is beautiful.


 

BRADLEY THEODORE, LADY BUG, 2017

 As with all the artist’s work, Bradley Theodore’s Lady Bug is a banquet of colour. Portraying a ruby red ladybird surrounded by a sumptuous array of radiant flowers, the canvas is an explosion of colour. The jewel-like insect is adorned with Theodore’s trademark motif of a skull, reminding the viewer of the recurring nature of life and death.


 

DAMIEN HIRST, ST PAUL’S, 2007

Derived from his ‘Cathedral’ series, St Paul’s is a limited-edition print by Damien Hirst featuring images of delicate butterfly wings arranged to resemble ecclesiastical stained-glass windows. Repeating and reflecting images of blue, yellow and brown butterflies, Hirst has created a geometrical pattern that appears majestic and ethereal. The spiritual composition draws a comparison between religion and nature, celebrating the beauty of the earth and prompting existential questions surrounding life, death, beauty and spirituality.


 

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