On the occasion of Menagerie: Animals on View, we're taking a closer look at several of the thematic groupings in the exhibition. This week: In the Landscape.
From languid cows relaxing in the sun to sheep huddled in a meadow, artistic portrayals of livestock in the countryside are prevalent. Pastoral themes were traditionally intended to convey the subservience of humans and animals to nature, which was conceived as a direct manifestation of God. However, as industrialization progressed, the significance of such images shifted in response to man’s increased alienation. The landscape began to serve as a politicized ground in which conflicts based in cultural memory, identity, and nationalism play out, and the animals within these scenes took on an increasingly symbolic role.