Nature into Art: Reversing the Picturesque


For every tourist, one of the many pleasures of traveling today is capturing a memorable picture: finding, framing, and composing the perfect view is so much a part of our travel experiences that we have forgotten how “making a picture” is  an art form. It is not surprising then, that today’s artists are re-investigating the picturesque by reversing the process and turning nature into art. We recently explored this on a visit to the studio of Dominique LaCloche, a Franco-British artist who not only embraces the picturesque tradition, but has turned it inside-out. 

© Dominique Lacloche

Born in Rome in 1960 and daughter of the landscape architect Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Lacloche was was accepted into the School of Fine Arts of Paris in 1983. In the early 2000’s she discovered the Gunnera Manicata leaf, a Jurassic era plant that still flourishes in Brittany from April to October. Fascinated by its size and form (the leaves can reach up to 3 meters), she has been experimenting with them using photography, video, installation and sculpture.

Her current work involves the process of photosynthesis that enables both the plant and human beings to survive to the surface of the plant by turning it into a living photograph. Lacloche develops gelatin silver prints on the Gunnera leaf, the photographic reveal itself imitating the life process of photosynthesis. Each image-leaf thus reconciling the process of nature and development of art.

Lacloche’s airy studio is found in the south of Paris, not far from the famed early 20th century art studios of Montparnasse. Although its soaring ceilings cast in beautiful natural light, the space has become all too small for her colossal leaves. Working our way around the studio and carefully peeling back layers of protective papers to show us both virgin and transformed leaves, Lacloche went over her creative and technical processes. We also saw how her artistic treatment of the leaves has evolved over the years, from delicately hanging pieces to her latest works encased in a custom designed double-sided glass frame.

Dominique Lacloche studio

LaCloche’s work is regularly exhibited in Paris, London and art fairs and in galleries around the globe. LaCloche’s work echoes themes presented at one of the most popular exhibitions in Paris this season, Nous les Arbres, which was held at the Fondation Cartier and presented how a community of international artists, botanists, and philosophers re-invested the picturesque by placing trees at the center of their work.

This is first of our series looking at how contemporary artists, landscape architects, chefs  and architects are rediscovering the picturesque. Want to learn more? Contact us and we can develop a private tour for you. 

We are also offering a special 2020 early bird discount. Order any tour before March 1, 2020, and receive a 10% off regular tour prices. See our range of tours here.

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