LET’S DISCUSS: The Role of Art in Protecting the Planet

role of art

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life...” - Oscar Wilde

What did Oscar Wilde mean when he wrote that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”? This quote is from ‘The Decay of Lying – An Observation’, an essay included in his collection of essays titled ‘Intentions’, published in 1891.The quote is about how art affects the way we look at the world around us, and the role of art in protecting the environment.

Is this how Banksy saw it when, in 2005, he painted his parody of Monet’s ‘A Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies’ and transformed it into a fly-tipping spot, adding abandoned shopping trolleys and a traffic cone to the famous garden scene? A painting that sold in London in October, 2020 for £7.6million.

The painting is entitled “Show Me the Monet” and provokes us to consider what is more important, the natural environment around us, or how we use (and abuse) it.

As we discuss the place of art in awakening our understanding of both the environment and attitudes towards it, we can also take empowering inspiration from the following statement by the Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy:

“Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is great matter. Art is an organ of human life, transmitting man’s reasonable perception into feeling. In our age the common religious perception of men is the consciousness of the brotherhood of man-we know that the well-being of man lies in the union with his fellow men. True science should indicate the various methods of applying this consciousness to life. Art should transform this perception into feeling. The task of art is enormous. Through the influence of real art, aided by science, guided by religion, that peaceful co-operation of man is now obtained by external means-by law courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspection, etc.-should be obtained by man’s free and joyous activity. Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.”

Let’s Discuss the role of art in portraying the need to protect our planet. Maybe you have created a piece of art that reflects your concern about or interest in the environment or the natural world. If you would like to share your message for the planet across the globe, Planetary would like to help you speak out for Earth by sharing your art on our site! Email us at and we will be in touch!

Have you ever seen interactive art? Click here to explore!


Posted by Bob Edwards 26 October 2020

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