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Art Wolfe Photographs Elephants, Botswana

Art Wolfe: Photographer Extraordinaire

Art Wolfe, the extraordinary photographer, was kind enough to send his two latest coffee-table-sized book for our review.  Let’s take a look at them.

Human Canvas combines Wolfe’s world-famous photography with his exquisite painting to create a groundbreaking collection of body art.

What does it mean to be human? In Human Canvas, Art Wolfe uses his exceptional photography and his background in fine-art painting to transform skin into an abstract landscape. Inspired by the body-painting traditions of indigenous peoples Wolfe has photographed worldwide, and particularly those in Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea, Wolfe set out to present his own take on this art form and explore concepts of universal beauty. Through the use of lines, patterns, textures, and unusual points of view, Wolfe abstracts the human form and creates a unique and captivating look of the human body as art. The result is an energized expression of both artistic mastery and cultural impact.

Over his expansive career, Wolfe has traveled to every continent. He has ventured from 19,000-foot heights on Mount Everest to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, 410 feet below sea level, as well as deep into sacred lands on the Tibetan Plateau, the Indian subcontinent, and the desert Southwest. He has visited indigenous tribes deep in the Amazon rainforest, high in the Baliem Valley in Western New Guinea, and in Ethiopia’s arid Omo River valley. Each new group of people he connected with showed him that, despite our cultural differences, inside we’re all just human. Through this fearless effort by a photographer uniquely qualified by study and life experiences in the cultural and artistic worlds, Wolfe manages to universalize the concept of human beyond race, gender, politics, or any other differentiating feature.

In Wild Elephants, Art Wolfe seeks to capture on camera just what makes elephants so special and so worth saving.

Legendary for their size and intelligence, elephants are one of the most charismatic of megafauna. That they are under siege from poachers is no secret, and the rapidity of their declining numbers is horrifying. However, amidst the steady stream of bad news, all is not lost. Ivory prices are declining, global education seems to be succeeding, and recent government crackdowns are beginning to stem the flow of illegal ivory.

While Wild Elephants features photographs of both African and Asian species, the emphasis is on the African savanna or bush elephant. Dr. Samuel Wasser’s informative text focuses on his current groundbreaking research on the impacts of the illegal trade in elephant ivory along with legal culling practices as a means of population control of this highly intelligent, tightly knit social species.

New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (When Elephants Weep) provides an insightful, emotional introduction.

Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants, of the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their natural heritage, and of what we can do to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of a magnificent species.

Visit his website for more fascinating photography and the stories behind them.

Art Wolfe shares a moment with a southern elephant seal during filming for Travels to the Edge on South Georgia Island