Gagosian Gallery and Sebastian Copeland join forces for NRDC

Sebastian Copeland poses in front of one of his North Pole photographs.
(Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

When an intrepid explorer joins forces with a successful contemporary art gallery, the mood for the evening could be described as “artfully adventurous.”

Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills hosted photographer and environmental activist Sebastian Copeland on Thursday night in a fundraiser for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The British-born artist, lecturer and self-described “extreme adventurer” -- who’s based in West Hollywood -- has led expeditions in remote locations around the world to document the effects of climate change and capture, through video and photography, endangered landscapes.


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Three of Copeland’s 48-by-60-inch “pigment prints,” as he calls them, were on display in the airy upstairs gallery space, with 100% of the proceeds from their sales benefiting the NRDC. Each of the striking photographs told a story -- of Copeland’s personal travels and of the frightening turns our planet has taken environmentally.

One print depicted a blue-tinted iceberg cube jutting above the frozen ground.

“I was exhausted, needless to say, and hadn’t slept in two days,” Copeland told the crowd. “But the day was the perfect light for photography. I dropped my bag, took my camera and spent five hours walking around and [capturing it].”

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As plates of organic chicken and tuna tartar appetizers where passed among the crowd -- a mix of both Jimmy Choos and Converse All Stars -- Joel Reynolds, Western director of the NRDC, gave a short talk.

“By far the most important issue the NRDC works on today is climate change,” he said.

As Reynolds introduced a film clip from Copeland’s “Into the Cold,” documenting his two-month trek in minus-50 degree Fahrenheit temperatures through the North Pole, he added: “All the work we’re doing around climate change, all the work we’re doing in the Arctic, is magnified and accelerated by the work that Sebastian does.”


The sentiment was mutual. “They are the strongest litigating organization in America for nonprofit work,” Copeland said of the NRDC. “If you already know them, good for you; if not, look them up.”


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Twitter: @debvankin