This summer the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will present a major retrospective of Frans Lanting’s work. Born in Rotterdam, Lanting has been hailed as one of the great photographers of our time. For more than four decades, he has documented the natural world from the Amazon to Antarctica to promote understanding about the earth through images that convey a passion for nature and a sense of wonder about our living planet.
This exhibition will be the first to show the range and depth of Lanting’s work over the course of his career. It will feature images from five of his signature projects produced over a period of forty years. Lanting’s work is presented as an ongoing dialogue with nature, and this exhibition reveals how those conversations have been influenced by art and literature as much as they have been informed by science, technology, and his own experiences with wildlife and wild places on all seven continents.
The Magic of Reality: Holland
Frans Lanting (b. Rotterdam, 1951) began making images in the 1970s, when he was studying environmental economics at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University. His first photographs were impressions of the seasons in the city’s Kralingse Bos park. Lanting was inspired by magic realism in paintings and literature, and by the work of Japanese haiku poets. His images capture the spare feeling of haikus and a sense of the otherworldly in the natural world.
A World Out of Time: Madagascar
In the 1980s Lanting was one of the first photographers to work in Madagascar after the country ended decades of self-enforced isolation from the West. During extensive fieldwork he documented wildlife and cultural traditions that had never been photographed before, and produced his first major story for National Geographic. His images opened the eyes of the world to the diversity as well as the conflicts of this island continent and fueled conservation efforts to protect Madagascar’s remarkable natural heritage.
Intimate Encounters: Eye to Eye
The photographs in Lanting’s Eye to Eye portfolio, first published in the 1990s, reveal the unique personal aesthetic he brings to wildlife photography, as well as the startling new perspective on animals his images provoke. “Mr. Lanting’s photographs take creatures that have become ordinary and familiar and transform them into haunting new visions,” writes The New York Times. In earlier projects Lanting’s images showed the relationship between animals and their worlds, including the human environment which more than ever shapes their fate today. In Eye to Eye he removed animals from the context in which they live, and brought together species and situations from around the world in order to celebrate the kinship of all animal life.
A Journey Through Time: Life
Life: A Journey Through Time is Frans Lanting’s lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present, expressed through images of the natural world that provide a window on its evolution through time. Produced over a period of seven years and first released in 2006, Lanting’s Life project was also realized as a multimedia symphony with music by American composer Philip Glass. Life is a synthesis of Lanting’s career. From his beginnings as a wildlife photographer pursuing animals one at a time his perspective grew to include their habitats, and in his iconic images, animals became ambassadors for ecosystems. Over time,
biodiversity superseded ecosystems as a concept for understanding nature as a network made up of untold numbers of species, and Lanting’s vision expanded to view the collective force of all life on earth as a singular element that shapes our planet.
The Future of Life
Images from Lanting’s project to explore the state of global biodiversity at the turn of the millennium are featured in The Future of Life, along with recent photographs that explore our relationship with a natural world that has been profoundly impacted by humans. Lanting’s images speak to our conflicts with wildlife and the risks to the diversity of life as well as to new discoveries and restoration, and what it means for the fate of life on earth.
Frans Lanting’s influential work has appeared in exhibitions and publications around the world. His books have received awards and acclaim: “No one turns animals into art more completely than Frans Lanting,” writes The New Yorker. Lanting has received top honors from World Press Photo, the title of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award. He has been honored as a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in London and is a recipient of Sweden’s Lennart Nilsson Award. In 2001 H.R.H. Prince Bernhard inducted Lanting as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark to honor his contributions to nature conservation. He serves as an Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund and on the Leadership Council of Conservation International, and he is a Trustee of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Lanting makes his home in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and partner, Chris Eckstrom, an editor, videographer, and former staff writer at National Geographic with whom he collaborates on fieldwork and publishing projects.
Municipality of Rotterdam | Rotterdam Festivals