Image Selection

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Fig. 1. Monet. (1872). Impression, Sunrise, Oil on canvas, Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impression,_Sunrise

I have chosen to insert Monet’s painting, Impression Sunrise, as it is a work that Mirzoeff referred to when writing about the smog produced by industrial coal in France, mid-nineteenth century. Monet’s painting has been carefully thought out to seize the moment of when France was experiencing the smog. Monet’s painting can be considered as a monument to environmental destruction according to Mirzoeff. (Mirzoeff 227). This is because the painting illustrates the beginning of environmental destruction due to humans actions, in this case, being the use of industrial coal. (Mirzoeff, 228).

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Fig. 2. Wesley Bellows, G. (1907). Forty-Two Kids, Oil on canvas, retrieved from http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.134485.html

George Wesley Bellows painting, Forty-Two Kids, illustrates a group of naked children about to swim in the East River, located in New York (1907). Mirzoeff has purposefully inserted this artwork as it is a representation/example of pollution. The water in the painting is black. This is because the water is polluted with bodily waste and dead animals. Alongside this work Mirzoeff discussed how many New Yorkers were oblivious to the pollution as the idea of living in the big modern city was too great. (Mirzoeff 234). This shows how many humans will turn a blind eye to environmental destruction as they are too caught up in their own busy lives. (Mirzoeff 233).

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Fig. 3. Wright of Derby, J. (1768). An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, Oil on canvas, retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Experiment_on_a_Bird_in_the_Air_Pump

This painting Mirzoeff used when discussing the death of birds. This painting illustrates scientist, Robert Boyles, an experiment where a bird would be placed in an air pump whilst the air would be removed. The experiment was initially used to show that air is required for survival, however, over time, the experiment would be used as entertainment. This is a clear example of how human’s action have a negative impact on the environment, in this case on animals. However, Mirzoeff states that these experiments were not seen as controversial at the time because modern westerners considered birds as inexhaustible resources. (Mirzoeff 224).

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