The Art Angle Podcast: How Two Painters Helped Spark the Modern Conservation Movement

An exhibition traces the impact of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and Martin Johnson Heade on contemporary environmentalism.

Thomas Cole's View on the Catskill—Early Autumn (1836–37). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

Right now there is a powerful, highly ambitious, and deeply relevant art show in New York that weaves together the histories of conservation and American art in a way most people haven’t seen before.

It’s a quick jag from the city across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into Catskill, New York, but light years away from the bustling metropolis, where on either side of the river are the historic homes of the famed Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Frederic Church in New York’s Hudson River Skywalk Region.

Inside those homes—the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site—sprawls the show titled “Cross-pollination: Head, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment,” with art that spans the mid-19th century to today, the exhibition is built around a suite of 16 bravura paintings of hummingbirds titled “The Gems of Brazil” by the little known Hudson River School artists, Martin Johnson Heade, and it takes flight from there exploring a network of interconnections between art, science, and the natural world.

It also provides rich insight into the story of the relationships at the heart of the show between Heade, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church, three of the greatest visionary artists America has ever known.

This week on the podcast, Andrew Goldstein is joined by Thomas Cole National Historic Site curator Kate Menconeri to discuss how these historic artists first began thinking about ideas of conservation and preservation, and how contemporary artists have taken up the mantle to encourage a new generation not only to appreciate nature, but how to give back what for years we’ve been taking from it.


Listen to Other Episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: The Hunter Biden Controversy, Explained

The Art Angle Podcast: Legendary Auctioneer Simon de Pury on Monaco, Hip Hop, and the Art Market’s New Reality

The Art Angle Podcast: 18-Year-Old NFT Star Fewocious on How Art Saved His Life, and Crashed Christie’s Website

The Art Angle Podcast (Re-Air): How Photographer Dawoud Bey Makes Black America Visible

The Art Angle Podcast: Tyler Mitchell and Helen Molesworth on Why Great Art Requires Trust

The Art Angle Podcast: How High-Tech Van Gogh Became the Biggest Art Phenomenon Ever

The Art Angle Podcast: How Much Money Do Art Dealers Actually Make?

The Art Angle Podcast: What Does the Sci-Fi Art Fair of the Future Look Like?

The Art Angle Podcast: How Kenny Schachter Became an NFT Evangelist Overnight

The Art Angle Podcast: How Breonna Taylor’s Life Inspired an Unforgettable Museum Exhibition

Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Art Dealer Mariane Ibrahim on the Power of the Right Relationships

The Art Angle Podcast:‘Art Detective’ Katya Kazakina on How She Lands Her Epic Scoops

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.