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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Current Exhibition

Exhibitions are on display in our gallery on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and are open to the public free of charge. We hope to see you here.

Looking Back: An International Retrospective, Part 2

14 March – 28 June 2024

We conclude our two-part retrospective exhibition to celebrate the upcoming 60th anniversary of our International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration series. Featuring some of the 1,212 artists who have been included in the series since 1964, the spring 2024 exhibition, Looking Back: An International Retrospective, Part 2, includes works by 43 artists from the 9th–16th Internationals. The celebration culminates with the opening of our 17th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration in fall 2024.

When the Hunt Botanical Library (today the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation) opened in 1961, it was comprised of books, letters, manuscripts, original artworks and portraits from the collection of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt (1882–1963). She had exquisite and discriminating tastes, and her knowledge of botanical and horticultural history and literature was extensive and astute. For the art collection to grow as she hoped, it was clear that a broader focus on contemporary artists and illustrators would be necessary. As George H. M. Lawrence (1910–1978; Hunt Institute founding director, 1960–1970) wrote in the catalogue for the Contemporary Botanical Art and Illustration (1st International) exhibition in 1964, "this library, already a repository for botanical art of earlier centuries, recognizes that among the original work produced today there is much that will be sought and prized by collectors tomorrow." With the goal of collecting and preserving the best examples of contemporary botanical art and illustration, the International series was established in 1964 and has, to date, represented 1,212 artists from all over the world. This series has allowed us to add some of the most compelling botanical artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries to our collection, which has grown from Rachel Hunt's 1,300 watercolors, drawings and prints in 1961 to over 32,000 works today; it has enriched relationships with artists, botanists, historians and the institutions that support botanical research and education worldwide; and it has become an important marker in the careers of many botanical artists and illustrators who have seen this exhibition as a milestone. We have been honored to play such an important role for so many and to have been a part of the resurgence of appreciation for botanical art.

As we carry this reflection forward, looking toward our 17th International in the fall of 2024, it is only natural that we would want to celebrate some of those incredible artworks that have become a part of our collection as a direct result of this exhibition series. While it would be impossible for us to share artwork from all 1,212 artists, we are able to showcase smaller groupings that are representative of the vast range of styles, mediums, techniques and subjects within the world of botanical art and illustration. This spring we continue with Looking Back: An International Retrospective, Part 2, which explores the second half of the International series exhibitions and covers the years 1998 through 2019. Artists included are Mariella Baldwin, Marcus Beaven, Zoë Carter, Patricia Eckel, Melinda Edstein, Paul Fennell, Susan T. Fisher, Jenny Freestone, Noriko Fujita, Ellen Gaube, Régine Frédérique Hagedorn, Jarmila Haldová, Eiko Hamada, David Herzig, Denise Heywood, Asuka Hishiki, Hideo Horikoshi, Yoshiko Kamei, Joo-Young Lee, Abby Leigh, Claire Leroux-Daublain, Angela Lober, Rogério Lupo, Miriam Macgregor, Leo Meissner, Hiroko Mima, Carol Ann Morley, John Pastoriza-Piñol, Bryan Poole, Arunachalam Rajasekaran, Denise Ramsay, Dick Rauh, Vivienne Rew, Susan Rubin, Lizzie Sanders, Elaine Searle, Gael Sellwood, Andrew Seward, Hye Woo Shin, Klei Sousa, Susana Ferreira de Souza, Yasuhiro Takeuchi and Anita Vera Mirjam Walsmit Sachs.

The out-of-print editions of the International series catalogues are available to download as PDFs on our Web site. A limited quantity of the 16th International catalogue remains in print and can be purchased by contacting us. Information from the printed catalogues is being updated and incorporated into the Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration database, which is available on our Web site. When completed, the database will become the most comprehensive and concise record available of contemporary botanical artists and illustrators.

Reception

The reception on Thursday, 14 March (5:00–7:00 p.m.) is open to the public. At 5:30 p.m. in the gallery the curator will introduce the exhibition and the artists in attendance.

Hours

The exhibition will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and will be open to the public free of charge. Hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–noon and 1:00–5:00 p.m. (except 29 March, 12 April, 27 May, 19 June). Because our hours of operation are occasionally subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm.

Flaming Glory; Flame Lily; Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana' scale 3:1 [Gloriosa superba Linnaeus, Colchicaceae], watercolor on paper by Denise Ramsay (1971–), 2015, 76.5 × 56 cm, HI Art accession no. 8083, reproduced by permission of the artist.

Selected Artworks

[+] Click to enlarge