Birds in American Art


This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Birds in American Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

After articles and essays from Resource Library are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches. Following online resources may be information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

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Also see "Wildlife Art: 18-19th Century, 19-20th Century, 20-21st Century"


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Birds & Beyond: The Prints of Maurice R. Bebb; essay by Cori Sherman North (9/21/16) Quoted from the essay: "Bebb is known for his color etchings of American bird species, and as he was an avid birdwatcher and Ornithological Society officer, it is not surprising that about half of his print subjects are of midwestern birds."

Karen Bondarchuk: Woodson Art Museum 2016 Master Artist (2/19/16) Bondarchuk -- a visual artist whose work ranges from sculpture and drawing to video and bookmaking, employing a broad range of materials and processes -- is well known and admired for her extraordinary, large-scale charcoal portraits of ravens, crows, and owls along with the aforementioned larger-than-life corvid sculptures created from tire scraps salvaged along Michigan highways.

Birds in Art - 40th Annual Exhibition (1016/15) Artwork by 123 of the world's most talented artists serves as a fitting tribute to the 40th annual "Birds in Art" exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Varied and accomplished depictions of avian life, from regal poses, lively gatherings, and calm repose to sculptural statements and whimsical "trompe l'oeil" works highlight why throughout four decades "Birds in Art" has earned international esteem.

Strut: The Peacock and Beauty in Art (12/6/14) Intrigued by the exotic art of Asia that prized and portrayed the peacock, Western artists and craftsmen chose the peacock as a multi-faceted motif for designs on canvas and for objets d'art in the home.

Birds of a Feather: John Costin and John James Audubon (4/20/12) John James Audubon and John Costin, while separated by roughly two centuries, both produced spectacular portfolios recording the splendor of American birds. This exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts pairs images of species featured in Costin's Large Florida Birds project with the corresponding work by Audubon.

Image & Text - Brian D. Cohen (6/23/07) The Bird Book is an alphabet book, appealing to bird-lovers and the young-at-heart of all ages. Pierrot Lunaire is Cohen's visual interpretation of the cycle of twenty-one poems by the Belgian Symbolist poet Albert Giraud that was later composed into an atonal song cycle by Arnold Schoenberg. The illustrations for both of these books are etchings made and printed by Cohen at his Bridge Press in Westminster Station.

The Wyeths: An Artistic Trilogy (9/29/06) Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum director Kathy Kelsey Foley noted that although each of the Wyeths had a prominent place on the Museum's collection wish list, "We thought it highly improbable that we would ever have an opportunity to acquire a major artwork featuring birds by any one of them. To realize we have now turned our aspiration into a reality in less than one year is totally astounding."

Audubon's Dream Realized: Selections from "The Birds of America" (9/6/05) The prints on view in the exhibition were selected from the National Gallery of Art's early edition of "The Birds of America". Audubon's double-elephant folio -- a standard term of measurement for the largest sheet of paper produced in the 19th century, approximately 39 1/2 x 261/2 inches -- consists of 1,065 images of birds and represents 449 different species.

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's 30th Annual Birds in Art Exhibition (8/16/05) "Birds in Art" again offers fresh looks and stop-in-your-tracks peeks into bird life from around the world. An eclectic mix of 126 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures created by 115 global artists comprise the 2005 exhibition.

Audubon's Aviary (3/2/05) Three-dimensional objects -- from Audubon's own portable writing desk and purse for tipping, sewn by his wife Lucy Bakewell Audubon, to ornithological models and mounts demonstrating Audubon's technique of drawing from specimens as well as from nature -- and a unique sound component, produced by Charles Morrow Associates, Inc. help tell the story of Audubon's "magnificent obsession," the world-renowned The Birds of America.

Visual Harmony: Melody, Words and Birds of Walter Anderson (7/28/04) Anderson listed 112 species of birds over a week's time on one of the barrier islands during the 1940s. Earlier in his career, he worked on a book of Birds in the Southeast before the Peterson Guides existed. But his paintings of birds go beyond mere patterns of feathers and skeletal structure to characteristic stance and movement -- red winged blackbirds clamor in flocks, owls peer sleepily when awakened, and pelicans are recorded from birth to death in the mangroves on the beach.

Birdspace: A Post-Audubon Artists' Aviary (4/30/04) Birdspace investigates birds and bird culture in contemporary art from the early 1990s to today, revealing how far artists have evolved in their use of bird imagery since the days of John James Audubon, the legendary American bird artist. Artists include Jacqueline Bishop, Ross Bleckner, Walton Ford, Adam Fuss, Roni Horn, Ernesto Pujol, Hunt Slonem, Kiki Smith, Fred Tomaselli, Thomas Woodruff and many others.

Birds & Blossoms (1/30/04) The exhibit includes beautiful cascades of flowers, twinning rose bushes and vases of enchanting posies accompanied by colorful avian images, as well as sculpture and decorative arts that show birds surrounded by flowers and foliage.

Wild Wings: The Waterfowl Art of Harry Curieux Adamson (11/4/02) Adamson is described by internationally famous wildlife artist David Maass as "unsurpassed when it comes to portrayals of wildfowl on the wing in their natural surroundings." Wildlife artist Owen Gromme says Adamson is simply "one of the finest waterfowl artists in the world."

Selections from The Birds of America by John James Audubon (5/31/02) The exhibition, featuring approximately 20 prints from The Birds of America, coincides with the centennial of the formation of the Audubon Society of North Carolina in 1902.

Living on the Wind: The Bird Paintings of Athos Menaboni (3/28/01) Athos Menaboni is widely regarded as one of the world's finest illustrators and painters of bird life and hailed by wildlife lovers, art collectors, and ornithologists alike as the twentieth-century Audubon. A significant figure in Atlanta art, Athos Menaboni built a monumental reputation, achieving nationwide fame in the 1940s and 1950s. Like Audubon, Menaboni's attentiveness to nature is both dramatic and enchanting.

Ah-Louisiana, The Land of the Acadians: Wildfowl Carvers (2/23/99) Wildfowl decoys are not only a work of art as a carved and painted sculpture, but also a piece of history. Unique to North America, the wildfowl decoy is folklore, a form of regional art. Decoys depict bird species found along our waterways, and become history of a people, a time, and a place.

Taking Wing: The Wildfowl Flight Studies of Richard E. Bishop (5/30/00) Born in Syracuse and a graduate of Cornell University, Bishop developed a first-hand understanding of birds while hunting with his father, an avid wildfowl sportsman. Working as an electrical engineer in Philadelphia, Bishop began experimenting with etchings on copper plates. This launched a career that produced hundreds of etchings, aquatints, dry points and oil paintings of the sporting world.

"Birds in Art" Ready for 25th Lift-off (5/24/00) For nine weeks at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum bird watchers, art lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts - amateurs and pros alike - experienced avian artistic adventures with 113 works created by artists from around the United States and 11 other countries. Included were 89 oils, acrylics, and works on paper and 24 bronze, stone, and wood sculptures.

The John F. Marsellus Collection of Federal Duck Stamp Prints and Duck Stamps (1/24/00) This collection is especially significant as an historical document as it is one of the few collections to include every design created in the 66 years of the program's existence. The designs for the stamps are naturalistic renderings of various species of ducks in their wetland habitats, including mallards, canvas backs, black ducks, green-winged tails and emperor geese. Stamps issued before 1941 are exceedingly rare since the law originally specified that unsold stamps were to be destroyed the following year.

Birds in Art (1/21/00) Birds in Art includes works by an international roster of artists "who find endless inspiration in the graceful shapes, iridescent colors, and varying habitats of birds the world over." The artists hail from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Japan, The Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. Their chosen subjects also span the globe, from North American forest birds to the exotic creatures of Bali.

Louisiana Lures & Legends (10/23/99) Traditional hunting decoys and historical artifacts are on display. Chance: the Decoys of Chauncey Wheeler features the work of Alexandria Bay, New York, decoy maker and folk artist Chauncey Wheeler. This exhibit shares some of his finest decoys, folk art flyers, and never seen before treasures.

The 24th Annual "Birds in Art" at the Woodson (9/12/99) Birds in Art once again brings together, in the spirit of avian bonhomie, works by an international roster of artists who find endless inspiration in the graceful shapes, iridescent colors, and varying habitats of birds the world over. The exhibition comprises 115 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures by 104 artists who hail from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Japan, The Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States.

Floyd Scholz, Vermont's Master Woodcarver of Birds (5/21/99) "Wooden" as an adjective usually describes something stiff and lifeless. But in the hands of master carver Floyd Scholz, solid Tupelo hardwood becomes something graceful, light, and spirited, as it takes on the form and feathers of a red-tailed hawk, a bald eagle, or a hermit thrush, Vermont's state bird.

Birds in Art 1998 (9/2/98) Birds in Art settles into place for the 23rd consecutive year at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin.

Birds in Art 1998 (5/24/98) A second article on the 23rd consecutive year at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin.

22nd Annual Birds in Art Exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum The 1997 edition of the annual exhibit at thr Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.


From other websites:

Anais Rumfelt: 108 Crows is a 2017 exhibit at the Harwood Museum of the University of New Mexico which says: "Anais Rumfelt's crows are painted with black ink on paper, in a repeating pattern of threes. Each is completely unique and individual, but in active relationship with its neighbors. The crow has significant symbolism for the artist, as well as providing stark and graphic shapes." Also see news and interview. Accessed 12/17

CHRIS MAYNARD: FEATHERFOLIO is a 2017 exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art which says: "Chris Maynard, from Olympia, WA, creates exquisite artwork using hand-cut feathers as his medium. His inspirations include a background in biology and devotion to the natural world."  To read more after exhibit closes, go to "Past Exhibitions" section of museum website. Accessed 4/17

Cliff McGinnis: The Bird as Theme in American Art was a 2016 exhibit at the Butler Institute of American Art, which says: "Hubbard, Ohio-born Cliff McGinnis gained a regional reputation as a master carver. With hammer, chisel and other carving tools, McGinnis painstakingly sculpted exact representations of the birds of our region, adding accurate color to each piece." Accessed 12/16

Decoy Carving  - sample of artists and works from askArt. Accessed August, 2015.

Feathered Friends: Six Decades of Watercolor Painting of Birds by David Plank, an exhibit held at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art. Accessed April, 2015. Feathered Friends: Six Decades of Watercolor Painting of Birds by David Plank, Search online for a 13-minute gallery tour of the exhibit with narrative by the artist. Accesssed January, 2016.

The Greatest Bird Artists: John James Audubon and Earl Poole an exhibit held 2/16/08 - 6/6/08 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes online audio. Accessed April, 2015.

It Passes like a Thought is a 2018 exhibit at the Beall Center for Art + Technology which says: "Each artist in "It Passes like a Thought" represents the unique ways that birds enter our consciousness. They imitate their sublime sound, attempt to translate avian language, and/or represent their stunning likenesses, flight, and habitats.  Perhaps we watch and listen to birds so intently and universally as a way to remind ourselves that we must protect them. Birds are the ultimate memento mori: a reminder of vulnerability of the world around us." Accessed 5/18

Making Marks is a 2016 exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum which says: "In Making Marks, you'll discover more than sixty drawings and sketches created for different purposes. Some were intended to inspire; others record detailed observations to preserve memories. Several are intricate; others comprise simple lines." Accessed 2/19

The Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon (MABA) offers a variety of exhibits and education programs, plus conservation activities. Accessed 12/16

The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art is an ongoing online exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum which says: "The steady rise in environmental consciousness has fostered a growing desire to connect with the natural world and a resurgence of interest in the winged wonders that surround us daily." Accessed 8/17

Tony Fitzpatrick: The Secret Birds is a 2016 exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum which says: "In his ongoing series The Secret Birds, Fitzpatrick meticulously draws and layers images, poetry and found materials onto the page. He combines inspiration from his working class roots in Chicago and influences from folk art, comic book characters and tattoo imagery. Each drawn collage depicts a specific species of bird, ranging from the peregrine falcon to the common starling." Accessed 2/17


TFAO suggests these books:



TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Birds of America, The Features the art of John James Audubon. 29 minutes (collection of Joslyn Art Museum)

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.


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