The art of climate change is the focus of several high profile exhibitions this fall and winter. As previously reported, RETHINK: Contemporary Art and Climate Change opens in Copenhagen at the end of this month and runs through the UN Climate Change Conference there in December. Not to be outdone, London’s Royal Academy of Arts presents Earth: Art of a Changing World opening December 3 and running through the end of January.

Mariele Neudecker, “400 Thousand Generations”. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm. © the artist

The Royal Academy exhibition presents recent and new work from a top notch group of established and emerging contemporary artists.  Some have a long association with environmental causes and environmental art; other names on the list may be a bit of a surprise. The show is co-curated by David Buckland, director of the amazing Cape Farewell, one of the real driving forces behind the growing artistic and cultural response to climate change.

Antti Laitinen, “It’s Not My Island”. Image courtesy the artist and Nettie Horn, © the artist

Earth: Art of a Changing World will highlight the work of contemporary artists struggling to create meaningful human narratives out the global-scale crisis of climate change. Some works confront the issue head-on, whereas others explore ways in which climate change resonates through and influences the creative process.

Promotional material for the show describes a division of work into several thematic sections. Artists including Ackroyd & Harvey, Spencer Finch and Mona Hatoum will present work that engages directly with the earth and physical environment, while others such as Finnish artist Antti Laitinen, photographer Edward Burtynsky, Gary Hume and sculptor  David Nash will focus more on our human perceptions of the world, and our own security.

A third group including Darren Almond, Sophie Calle, Tacita Dean, Kris Martin, Studio Orta, Cornelia Parker and Shiro Takatani examine the role of the artist in examining, interpreting, and reflecting our changing world and damage being inflicted upon it.  After being confronted by a section focusing on the impacts of human behavior, a final section features works by artists and writers including Tracey Emin, Ian McEwan, Mariele Neudecker and Emma Wieslander examining how notions of beauty and permanence are being redefined by climate change–a cultural shift born out of the knowledge of what we stand to lose.

Mona Hatoum, “Hot Spot”. David Roberts Collection, London. Photo Stephen White
Edward Burtynsky, “Super-Pit #4, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia”. Courtesy Flowers, London, © The artist
Emma Wieslander, “‘Derwentwater I”. Courtesy the artist, © Emma Wieslander