Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL): The Nature of Beasts in 17th-Century Prints

Curated by Nathan Flis

16 September 2013 – 19 January 2014

From the point of view of the digital age, it is difficult to imagine a time when the life of the wild animal was seldom seen and rarely captured. This exhibit reveals a ‘moment’ in Western history when artists began to observe and imagine the life of creatures, situating them in landscapes representing their natural habitats. This conceit found its first real exponent in the experimental field observation of English artist Francis Barlow (c.1626-1704), famous for his illustrated edition of Aesop’s Fables (1666). Through prints, Barlow instigated a visual dialogue about the life or nature of the animal with artists in France and elsewhere. Focusing on prints from the 16th through the 17th century, The Nature of Beasts will transport viewers to another age, when the intimate viewing of small and detailed prints of birds and animals allowed everyday people to see and imagine the natural world for the first time.

This is the inaugural exhibition in CUAG’s newest initiative, the Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL). This new gallery space will present exhibitions curated by Carleton students, faculty and staff from diverse faculties. Nathan Flis, curator of The Nature of Beasts, is a post-doctoral fellow in art history at Carleton University.

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