Four months ago I published a couple of posts here on MAN about artists’ 500-year love affair with trees and on how I thought that Robert Adams was probably a big fan of Carleton Watkins’s pictures of trees. The posts seemed to be mighty popular with y’all, which was a lot of fun for me.
Just after I finished those posts, I read some new research that came out of the University of British Columbia about trees and forests. The research revealed the trees were networked under the ground in a way similar to how, well, humans are networked via the interwebs. Long story (very) short, it turns out that huge, old, healthy trees share water and nutrients with baby trees via their root systems and some specific types of fungus.
Reading the story, I realized that without knowing any of this, Adams’s “Turning Back” series of photographs hinted at much of this new story. The surprising intersection of these decade-old Adams pictures and new science about how forests live and function is the subject of my monthly “Art & Life” column in the latest issue of Modern Painters magazine. Pick up a copy or subscribe here!
Related: The Robert Adams retrospective organized by the Yale University Art Gallery has arrived at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I reviewed the show when it was at the Denver Art Museum.