A Picture is Worth...

A Picture is Worth...

So here is how it happened. I was strolling through the office, on my way to the coffee maker (for, say the 8th time that day: hello, my name is Lois and I am a caffeine-aholic), when I came across a gorgeous coffee table book sitting on the desk of one of my co-workers called Across the Ravaged Land by Nick Brandt, the third book in the photographers’ trilogy on the wildlife of Africa. I stopped, immediately moved by the cover image of an African ranger, kneeling, almost prayerlike, holding the tusks of a killed elephant. I started flipping through page after page of dramatic and beautiful images of East African wildlife, soulful-eyed elephants, a regal lioness, a curious-looking baboon. The photographer, Nick Brandt, has been photographing the wild creatures of Africa since 2000, simultaneously watching the rise in animals on the continent being “relentlessly squeezed out and hunted down.” So disturbed was Brandt by this “apocalypse,” as he calls it, that he helped found the Big Life Foundation, whose goal is the dramatic reduction of poaching operations. When I found out that Nick Brandt was on exhibition at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery through Nov. 2, I hailed the first cab I could find and went down to visit this sleek Chelsea gallery. The up-close photographs managed to move me even more than the lush pages of the book. Photograph after photograph of dramatic and heart-rendering moments from the vast plains of Africa, culled from Brandt’s book: an elephants’ gargantuan and ghostly-looking footprints from the hot African desert; a line of rangers with tusks of killed elephants; and, chillingly, the trophy heads of a buffalo and a lion, who once roamed the vast wilderness of Africa freely. There are moments when you murmur appreciately at an art gallery, moments when you whisper your oohs and ahs, and sometimes there are moments when you simply can’t say anything. And Nick Brandt’s show truly left me speechless, On exhibit through Oct. 19 at Hasted Kraeutler, 537 W. 24th St., 212.627.0006

Photo Credit: Elephant on Bare Earth, Amboseli, 2011, © Nick Brandt