Author: Charlotte Bearn

artrepublic's Best Birds

Artists throughout history have drawn inspiration from birds. They have been used to symbolize all manner of ideas, as well as being beautiful, colourful entities in themselves. We take a look at some of the best ornithological creations at artrepublic...

Bird imagery can be traced from the cave paintings of the Paleolithic era to the present day, and across all world cultures. The oldest reputed artistic representation of birds or parts of birds is a prehistoric bird-headed man dating from 15,000 to 10,000 B.C. painted on one of the walls of the treasure-house of Stone Age art, Lascaux Cave in France.

Ancient Egyptians considered birds ‘winged souls’ and would use them to symbolize particular gods. Goldfinches appeared commonly in illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages, and Byzantine, Gothic and Early Renaissance paintings are rich in philosophical and Christian symbolism regarding birds.

Birds have long been a favourite motif in Japanese painting and oriental art. They are linked with specific seasons and interpreted as reflections of human emotions and qualities. Louise McNaught's work is ever inspired by many arrays of different birds. Often depicting a hummingbird but exploring other species.

There is a surreal element to Penelope Kenny’s beautiful metamorphic rabbit-birds. Birds feature heavily in her work which explores the relationship between humans and other animals, especially in connection to evolution, hybrids and biotechnology.

Contemporary artist Kristjana S Williams creates beautiful collages that often feature gorgeous birds of colour. Her stunning prints show the majestic wonder of these birds.

The Parisian bird market which is still held every Sunday near the Notre Dame was the subject of a charming Miroslav Sasek illustration 'Bird Market' for his 1959 book ‘This is Paris’. The godfather of British Pop art, Sir Peter Blake, similarly features birds in his portrait of the French capital. 'Birds' is a magnificent print from his Paris series which captures the joie de vivre and spirit of bohemianism that pervades in the city. Blake's ornate collage juxtaposes the best of Parisian architecture with an eclectic selection of beautiful bird illustrations.

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Joe Webb

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