Leaves come in all shapes and sizes. During the spring and summer, they serve as 'solar panels' for the world's trees, but the beauty of leaves continues after their photosynthetic lives are over. Many artists have used dried leaves as a medium for their art, producing some deeply imaginative and often very delicate art pieces with them. From traditional Chinese leaf carving to larger installations by some of the world's leading land artists, we've rounded up some of the top examples of nature-inspired leaf art - check them out after the jump!
In the land art movement, no name is bigger than Andy Goldsworthy. The British artist is recognized around the world for the ingenious sculptures and art installations that he creates using elements found in nature. Fallen leaves are among Goldsworthy’s favorite tools, and he often uses the contrast between brightly colored leaves to create dramatic geometric shapes.
Few artists have the ability to transform an organic object into something as elegant and chic as Owen Mortensen. In his S3 series (which stands for stands for Selectively Skeletonized Sycamores), Mortensen reimagines leaf collecting by stripping away narrow bands of each leaf and lining them up to form a square.
German artist Walter Mason uses the gifts of nature — berries, water, grass and trees — to produce his temporary art installations, but it’s Mason’s use of leaves that we’re concerned with. Mason uses leaves to create gorgeous geometric patterns and collages that he captures in photographs and shares on his Flickr page.
Spanish artist Lorenzo Duran cuts away at leaves with surgical precision to create detailed landscapes, intricate symbols, and a variety of other images. Duran was inspired after seeing a caterpillar chomping away at a leaf, and it prompted him to adopt the leaf as his medium of choice. One of Duran’s recent commissions if for Leagas Delaney’s “Plant for the Planet” project, which showcases the leaf’s ability to absorb CO2.
French artist Sylvain Meyer produces environmental art that transforms organic materials like sticks, stones and leaves into swirling patterns and shapes. Using objects found on the forest floor, she produces elaborate installations that draw our attention to the beauty of the natural world. And because she isn’t introducing any foreign elements into the landscape, here pieces are completely non-invasive.
Traditional Chinese artists carve incredibly intricate images into leaves from the Chinar tree, which is native to India, Pakistan, and China. The painstaking process involves removing the outer layers of the dried leaf with a knife (which can take months) while carefully keeping the veins intact.