How David Attenborough and BBC Earth paint us a perfect picture


In the year 2050, two thirds of the global
population will live in an urban area or city. Yet, us humans are drawn towards nature ever since we left it behind. How has our obsession with nature inspired
visual artists throughout the ages? In 2016, the BBC released Planet Earth II.. the successor of the first Planet Earth
series which was broadcast in 2006. Technological camera innovations, especially in the field of
stabilization allowed them to create amazing shots like these While watching, you can’t help but wonder.. how do they get so close to these wild animals? This and many other factors, contribute to the success of the series.. like the immense popular presenter Sir David Attenborough.. and the music by famous composer Hans Zimmer for example. Not surprisingly, Planet Earth II is the 7th
most popular TV-programme of all time.. and is the most watched nature show ever. But there is one thing above all other that
explains why we love it so much… it makes us happy! A lot of scientific studies have shown that
spending time in nature makes us feel better.. both mentally and physically. The BBC wanted to find out whether simply
watching Planet Earth had the same effect. They partnered up with the University of California, Berkeley.. and asked thousands of viewers how they felt before
and after watching an episode of Planet Earth. Amazingly, the data showed an increase
in joy, contentment, curiosity.. awe, amazement and wonder. And also: clear reductions in tiredness,
low energy and reduced stress. Without a doubt, paintings have the same effect.. However, opposed to the BBC’s ability
to capture nature in real time.. as it really is, the artists from the 17th century couldn’t. Simply taking your canvas and oil paint outside was not
possible until the invention of the paint tube in 1841. That is why a lot of landscape paintings
until that time were made up. They were composed from sketches, memory and fantasy. This did not mean that artist would
only spent their time in their studio. Some of them made long and often
dangerous travels, all over the world.. and when they returned, they felt the artistic freedom
to combine everything that they saw, in their work. Like this imaginary landscape by Herman Henstenburgh.. where he put various bird species from all over the world together. Like the roseate spoonbill from North America
and the stork found in Europe and North Africa. Or take this landscape by Albert Cuyp. This is not set in Italy, as you might think. It is in the Netherlands, where you will
not find any mountains what so ever. But this is what is so cool about art: we already have
reality when we open our own eyes and look around. The artists offer us a unique perspective, a unique
set of eyes, a new way to look at the world. However, this did not mean that artists were not interested
in studying nature and visualizing it as it really was. Check out these examples by explorer, soldier
and artist Robert Gordon for example. He traveled to Africa six times in his lifetime. In Africa, he was in awe of all he saw
and obsessively tried to capture it. He wanted to know exactly what a flower consisted of.. drawing every part of the flower separately. And not only flowers, also plants, animals and people. The detail is amazing and very much life like. Innovations in the paint world, such
as the invention of the paint tube.. further allowed artists to capture nature
and the world in a completely new way.. sparking the impressionist movement. Being able to work outside, in nature, they started
painting the impression that nature gave them. Monet really learned from nature itself.. observing variations in color and light
caused by the daily and seasonal changes. Capturing unique moments in thick and vivid brush strokes. As humanity is losing touch with nature,
our longing for it becomes stronger and stronger. Thankfully we have the artists of today and of the
past to trick our minds and let us experience nature.. even though it is not really there. But let’s not forget that nature is out there.. Let’s experience it in real life, and most importantly: let’s cherish it, before it will only
exists on our screens and paintings. Let us know whether you think BBC Earth is art or not.. and let us know your suggestions for
future episodes of Is This Art? Thanks for watching!

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *