Untitled (Ursine 41-2)

The photograph, Untitled (Ursine 41-2) (2007) by Jill Greenberg is part of the Ursine series of bear portraits. Greenberg was struck by the inherent beauty and symbolic ferocity of the polar bear. The work shows a white bear showing its lower teeth as it sniffs the air with eyes closed. The fur stands out along the neck of the animal against a pale blue backdrop which blends in with the shade of the fur.

For Greenberg, polar bears represent “the canaries in the coal mine of global warming” as their habitat is being destroyed; they are the first victims of the climate crisis which we all face. Greenberg refrains from personification of animals that can also be vicious creatures, however still defending their right to live. “Bears can be simple, sometimes savage animals, but they have as much right to survival on this planet as we do. They are magnificent creatures of immense power, emotion and beauty.”


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