5 Photographs From Artnet Auctions’ Earth Day Sale That Capture the Beauty and Fragility of Planet Earth

Earth Day: Land, Sea, and Sky, live now on Artnet Auctions, offers a diverse selection of over 60 photographs that depicts the beautiful fragility of our world.

Included in this sale are contemporary works by Richard Misrach, Victoria Sambunaris, Nadav Kander, Ryan McGinley, and Roni Horn, alongside photographs by environmental activist trailblazers Ansel Adams, Edward Burtynsky, Nick Brandt, and Sebastião Salgado. A portion of the proceeds from this sale will benefit earthday.org’s Canopy Project, a worldwide initiative to strengthen communities and work towards planting a total of 7.8 billion trees.

Read on to learn about five exceptional works by environmental activist photographers, live now through May 5.

Ansel Adams
Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA (1960)

Ansel Adams, Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA, 1960. Live now on Artnet Auctions. Est. $6,000—9,000.

Ansel Adams was a life-long conservationist, and his signature black-and-white photographs of the American West served his mission to promote the preservation of untouched landscapes. In Moon and Half DomeYosemite National Park, CA, the artist’s muse is masterfully captured in sharp focus and full tonal range. In an industrialized society, Adams seek to share images of the natural world, and his advocacy and documentation aided the expansion of the National Parks system.

Edward Burtynsky
Railcuts #3, CN Track, Fraser River, British Columbia (1985)

Edward Burtynsky, Railcuts #3, CN Track, Fraser River, British Columbia, 1985. Live now on Artnet Auctions. Est. $8,000—12,000.

Where Ansel Adams depicted untouched landscapes, Edward Burtynsky shares images of the intersections between industrialization and the natural world, from Canada to Bangladesh. Burtynsky has been documenting humanity’s impact on the planet for over four decades. In Railcuts #3, CN Track, Fraser River, British Columbia, he presents a mountain side in the Canadian Rockies slashed in two by railroad tracks along the river. This image, from early in Burtynsky’s photographic career, reveals his persistent interest in altered landscapes viewed from a distance. The artist seeks to open a dialogue between the environment and the evolving needs of its inhabitants.

Peter Beard
Cassis and Beyond, New York (2008)

Peter Beard, Cassis and Beyond, New York, 2008. Live now on Artnet Auctions. Est. $40,000—60,000.

Peter Beard’s unique works often portraying both the existential plight of East African wildlife and his ongoing pursuit of female beauty. In Cassis and Beyond, New York, several of his most iconic images, such as the Orphaned Cheetah Cubs and the Hunting Cheetahs, are collaged with dozens of images of the model and artist Natalie White. Photographed in the artist’s residence in Cassis, an Upper East Side apartment, and Beard’s property in Montauk, White’s lively form sharply contrasts the images from The End of the Game, which illustrate decaying wildlife and stolen elephant tusks. Beard’s mystique as an artist and diarist stems from this dichotomy: mission-driven photography revealing the need for conservation and a glamorous pursuit of women.

Nick Brandt
Lion Before Storm I, Maasai Mara (2006)

Nick Brandt, Lion Before Storm I, Maasai Mara, 2006. Live now on Artnet Auctions. Est. $12,000—18,000.

Known for revealing the impact of climate change on the animal inhabitants of East Africa, Nick Brandt strips to make viewers aware of the beauty and danger that he encounters. His subjects, the diverse range of fauna in the region, are illustrated in profoundly intimate ways. “For me, every creature on this planet has an equal right to live,” Brandt wrote. In Lion Before Storm I, Maasai Mara, the subject faces an oncoming storm, as the gusts of wind blow his mane. As with all animals he photographs, Brandt ennobles the powerful lion, who serves as a paragon of the fragility of biodiversity, threatened by the impact of climate change.

Sebastião Salgado
Greater Burhan Oil Field, Kuwait (1991)

Sebastião Salgado, Greater Burhan Oil Field, Kuwait, 1991. Available now on Artnet Auctions. Est. $10,000—15,000.

The human toll of climate change and war is a theme of Sebastião Salgado’s works. Greater Burhan Oil Field, Kuwait illustrates two workers combating the 1991 fires in Kuwait’s oil wells. The smoke in the background mixes with the looming clouds in the sky. The workers, who terminated the firefighting efforts “Operation Desert Hell,” are completely doused in oil, surrounded by a ravaged landscape. In his characteristically rich tones, Salgado’s image of the shining, heroic men offers a glimpse into the environmental impact of war. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Salgado overcame severe temperatures, smoke pollution, and physical danger to capture these awe-inspiring images.

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