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Shaping Nature

Picture Rome, where monuments to classical civilization dot the landscape, reminding us of humanity’s long history intervening in nature. Heading north, feats of architecture join natural beauty to create unmatched views in Venice, a city memorialized by many great painters, none more successful than Canaletto. He and fellow artists encouraged tourism by flattering Venice’s built environment, re-positioning structures or shifting the viewpoint within a work to enhance the visual impact. How artists portray changes to nature can affect the way we think of those alterations. Here on US soil, artists have considered specifically American interventions. Thomas Hart Benton painted farmers at work to engage in agriculture politics, and later, Ed Ruscha explored a modern western landscape, where business defined the terrain.

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