The Harvard Art Museums have been awarded a $100,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support the upcoming Fall 2021 exhibition Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography since 1970. The exhibition will be the first to address the unknown and often unexpected ways habitats and well-being in the United States are affected by American warfare and the military-industrial complex. The grant, which was announced as part of the Warhol Foundation’s Fall 2020 grants program, provides general support for the project. Devour the Land is organized by the Harvard Art Museums and will include a catalogue and robust public programming.
With more than 130 works across 7 thematic groupings, the exhibition illustrates the national footprint of the military on the environment, the wide range of industries directly related to these activities, and the human impact of and responses to this activity. The exhibition finds its historic roots in the Civil War era, with images that show the devastation left by troops who were instructed by General William Tecumseh Sherman to ransack farms and indiscriminately set fires to eliminate the transportation and industrial infrastructure that sustained the Confederate Army. “We have devoured the land,” he declared. While recognizing its links to a trajectory that originated in the 19th century, Devour the Land begins with the 1970s, a dynamic period for environmental activism and photography, and includes a concentration of works from the 1980s onward by an international roster of 53 artists.