Large Spruce

“Large Spruce” by Albrecht Altdorfer

RIDGELY — From early sacred drawings to modern exhibitions, the tree features prominently in art. Join Benjamin Tilghman, assistant professor of art and art history at Washington College, for an October lecture series at Adkins Arboretum that considers instances where artists have made trees the primary subject of their artworks.

“Woven Mulberries, Abandoned Oaks and Gilded Larches: Exploring the Tree in the History of Art” aims toward developing a deeper understanding of the relationships among humans, trees and the environment as a whole. Each of Tilghman’s three lectures can be enjoyed individually or in a series. Programs include:

• Renaissance Era: Sunday, Oct. 13, 1 to 2:30 p.m. The program will focus on the Renaissance artists Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Altdorfer and Leonardo da Vinci. While all three helped to revolutionize artistic depictions of the natural world, their approaches are different in ways that highlight diverging ideas about nature in the sixteenth century.

• Romantic Era: Sunday, Oct 20, 1 to 2:30 p.m. This talk will highlight artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and John Constable, and will explore how trees played a role in their attempts to bring together the sublime power of the natural world with changing ideas about the environment and national identity.

• Contemporary Era: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1 to 2:30 p.m. This final lecture will explore how contemporary artists, including Ai Wei Wei, Andy Goldsworthy and Giuseppe Penone, have used trees to highlight the fraught but meaningful relationship between humanity and the environment.

Tilghman specializes in the art of medieval and early modern Europe but maintains an active interest in the art of the Islamic world and modern and contemporary art. His research has focused primarily on objects from early medieval Ireland and Great Britain, with special interest on manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Lindisfame Gospels.

Since 2010, he has been a core member of the Material Collective, a collaborative working group of art historians dedicated to fostering innovative and humane research in the humanities.

Each lecture is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Advance registration is appreciated at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

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