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What is Darwin’s Legacy? October 17, 2013  |  By Jane Lavino

Bart Walter (United States, b. 1958), Contemplation, 1991. Bronze. 25½ x 20 x 22½ inches. JKM Collection©, National Museum of Wildlife Art. © Bart Walter

We have a new exhibit that opened a week ago called Darwin’s Legacy: The Evolution of Wildlife ArtWhen Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, it had a huge effect on the way people thought about and portrayed wild creatures.

Darwin’s ideas caused us to look at nature differently, and see connections between animal, habitat, and behavior that had not seemed so vital before.  Artists understood, more than ever, how important it was to go out to observe and sketch animals from life in their natural settings. No longer was it “good enough” to sketch captive animals in the zoo if you wanted to portray them truthfully. “Contemplation” (above) by Bart Walter is a statement on the behavior and body language of captive chimps. This chimp looks dejected and appears to be questioning its circumstances. Walter’s other sculptures of chimps are modeled after wild animals observed in Africa.

Darwin’s Legacy will be on display in the Gilcrease and Changing Visions Galleries through April 27, 2014.

Jane Lavino, Sudgen Family Curator of Education & Exhibits

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