Art imitates nature.
(l) Petrified pine cone, Jurassic period, Argentina
(r) Our Lady of Guadalupe (date unknown)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that nothing in the universe is original.
Great art is not original. You couldn’t come up with something unrecognizable even if you tried, no matter what Barnett Newman says, because we are nature. We are starstuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. And it is the most unsurprising and natural thing that, in our consciousness, we would conjure something in the universe, over and over again.
The very greatest art always contains an “Aha!” of recognition. It speaks to anyone.
This last point was revealed to me over the course of many visits to the Houston Museum of Natural Science during the past couple of years. These images are pretty self-explanatory. The final one is a still from a video by the Korean artist Kim Beom, in which he reads poetry to a rock.
We are all of us, everything, in this together.
(l) Cerussite, from the Otjikoto Region of Namibia
(r) Pennzoil Place, downtown Houston, designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, 1975
(l) Elbaite & Quartz, Tourmaline Queen Mine, San Diego County, CA
(r) Georges Braque, Still Life with Mandola and Metronome, 1909
(l) Cavansite, Wagholi Quarry, Maharashtra, India
(r) Yves Klein sponge sculptures
(l) Quartz v. Selenite, Rio Grande de Sul, Brazil
(r) Donald Judd, Untitled (detail), 1974
(l) Fossilized coral from the Devonian period, Switzerland
(r) Tony Cragg, In Minds, 2001- 2002
(l) Azurite & Malachite, Otjikoto Region, Namibia
(r) Robert Morris installation view at the Whitney Museum
[Photo: Rudy Burckhardt © 2013 Rudy Burckhardt Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York]
(l) Petrified Wood, Late Triassic period, Apache County, Arizona
(r) Damien Hirst, Untitled Spin Painting, 2001
(l) Stromatolite, Proterozoic period, Alice Springs, Australia
(r) Jannis Kounellis installation at the Teatro Margherita, 2010
(l) Ammonite, Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous period, Volga River, Russia
(r) Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970
(l) Microcline v. Amazonite & Albite, Ten-Percenter Mine, Colorado
(r) Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-04
(l) Smithsonite, Kelly Mine, New Mexico
(r) Ted Kincaid, LA Sky 803, 2009
(l) Pyrite, Navajún, Spain
(r) Tony Smith, Die, 1962
(l) Mesolite, Maharashtra, India
(r) Tara Donovan, Untitled, 2012
(l) Brittle Stars, Jurassic period, Dorset County, England
(r) James Surls, Tree and Three Flowers (detail), 2013
(l) Glyptodon, Pleistocene period
(r) Martin Puryear, Deadeye, 2002
(l) Stilbite, Maharashtra, India
(r) Jay DeFeo, The Rose, 1958–66
(l) Echinoid, Middle Jurassic period, Gloucestershire, England
(r) Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain (detail), 2001
(l) Rhodochrosite (polished), Capillitas Mine, Argentina
(r) Louise Bourgeois, CINQUE (detail), 2005
Kim Beom, still from A Rock That Learned the Poetry of Jung Jiyong, 2010, single-channel video
All minerals and fossils pictured are in the permanent collection of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. You may click on the images to view them larger.
With thanks to Aristotle, Carl Sagan, Jackson Pollock, Antonio Gaudi, Nikola Tesla, and Jane Austen.
Rainey Knudson is the founder and publisher of Glasstire.
also by Rainey Knudson