Throughout art history movements, the way artists have depicted the landscape, weather and nature has evolved. I want to examine this and understand the changes that occurred and why this may be – linking it to what type of movement and style I relate to most when I try and depict vast open skies, clouds and thunderstorms.
The earliest form of painting nature and skies begins with Medieval art where the depictions are centred around the night sky, the sun and the stars. Astrology was key in this time period and led to medicines also being based around the solar system, quite minimal and illustrative impressions.
Artists include: Cristoforo de Predis, Harley MS
Renaissance art proved to be the beginning of the realistic portal of skies, clouds and weather. Usually acting as a background for a scene to play out in the foreground, with intense light and shade as new colours are discovered e.g. Gamboge, a bright and translucent yellow pigment.
Artists include: Charles Le Brun, Titian
There was a turn in the early 16th century as Mannerism came into play. With dark and dramatic stormy skies linked into the background, portrays of the clouds became less realistic, merging with the human form to create curves.
Artists include: El Greco
My interests start to peak around the Baroque era, with their use of pastels depicting sunsets/sunrises and using clouds to signify the angels/Christ and heaven. Sunlight is used a lot to form this pastel lighting.
Artists include: Antonio Verrio, Louis Laguerre
A similar style that came after the Baroque movement was Rococo, this was by far the most over the top and dramatic style in art history. It was very detailed and intricate, with clouds and skies made much more of a feature especially with the merge with landscape and greenery. more realistic and a mixture of daytime and night-time linking into the type of painting created.
Artists include: François Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard
The art movement that speaks the most to me is Romanticism. The dark, dramatic, stormy and realistic elements entice me into every piece. We begin also to portray the weather much more accurately bringing in rain and storms. Plein-air painting began meaning artist could examine the weather in real life out in the open, experiencing the outdoors as they happen – emphasizing the imagination. Poetry also began influencing art e.g. William Blake
Artists include: J.M.W Turner, John Constable
Moving on from this, Realism began with more subtle and true to life impressions, no exaggerated clouds just the normal western ‘dull’ weather depicting everyday life, usually dark and dull as depicting farmers/labourers.
Artists include: Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet
The rest of these art history movements are the ones that link least to my work however I still wanted to include them as its helpful to understand the different depictions and how they change.
Impressionism – An ‘impression’ of the skies, exaggerated vibrant colours, brush marks signify clouds rather than realistic. Also muted, warm colours. Landscape become more of a prominent feature by themselves rather than background.
Artists include: Claude Monet
Post-Impressionism – Becoming much more abstract, clouds and skies become movement, showing almost video like frames. E.g. Van Gogh, reflections and water become important echoing what the sky is like. Similar to impressionism whereby using many vibrant colours to depict what ‘isn’t there’. Pointillism.
Artists include: Vincent Van Gogh
Fauvism – Intense colour, line, and brushwork, a bold sense of surface design, and flat composition. The separation of colour from its descriptive, representational purpose was one of the core elements that shaped this movement. Less detailed. No need to depict what is there anymore.
Artists include: Henri Matisse, André Derain
Expressionism – Distortion of form and strong colours to display anxieties and raw emotions, showing movement through colour, bold mark making.
Artists include: Edward Munch, Oskar Kokoschka
Cubism – Block shapes to signify clouds, fragmented objects through abstraction, lines, little curves, more realistic colour palette compared to expressionism but depicting landscapes and skies in an abstract way.
Artists include: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque
Surrealism – Using skies as an illusion to create the effect of space and a dream like quality – slightly linking into the baroque where it was almost depicted as other worldly (heaven) moving into a more pastel colour palette but still vibrant. Realistic but with a surrealism element – slightly cartoon like. Unconscious mind to depict revelations found on the street and in everyday life.
Artists include: Salvador Dalí, Paul Nash
A key movement also in relation to my work is Abstract Expressionism. Almost completely unrecognisable as to what its depicting, still hints of what’s there but more of an impression rather than reality. Big brushstrokes to signify power in the sky. Showing movement too, instead used spontaneity and improvisation to create abstract works of art. This included colossally scaled works whose size could no longer be accommodated by an easel. Instead, canvases would be placed directly upon the floor. I feel this movement in particular lends itself it my project as although I want to depict weather and the sky in a way that can be understood, the impression is a key aspect. Allowing the audience to decipher first and then understand later is key.
Artists include: Jackson Pollock, Sam Francis
Some other movements that don’t relate so much to my project are below, I thought I would continue to research how the depiction of skies and weather have changed just to understand fully.
Pop Art – Cartoony and comic book like, abstract and block colour (similar to cubism), usually depicting people or objects, landscapes are strayed away from.
Artists include: Roy Lichtenstein
Minimalism – Slight depictions of clouds but with minimal brushstrokes, fewer colours, limited pallet – use blocks sometimes, starting to link back to night-time and stars.
Artists include: Donald Judd
Conceptual art – fantasy like, focused on ideas and concepts, there was no distinct style or form. Wide colour pallet much more individual as to not holding one style as all ideas are different and are portrayed differently.
Artists include: Olafur Eliasson, Richard Long
Finally, we get to the 21st century and Contemporary art takes over and art becomes much more individual, a mixture. Landscapes portrayed realistically with link to romanticism but also combination with abstract expressionism (mark making etc). Digital art starts to make an appearance along with feminism art and other smaller movements. The most varied of all the movements.
Artists include: Virginia Katz, Ian McKeever
In summary, the movements that stand out the most to me include Romanticism, with artists such as Turner acting as inspiration along with Impressionism, including artists such as Claude Monet. Possibly the most influential movement is Abstract Expressionism, with the abstract yet conceptual element behind each piece. Contemporary also plays a large part in all my work as I am working in that movement currently so am influenced by other artists such as Virginia Katz (land art type) as well as Ian McKeever. Overall, it has been so helpful to see how the depiction of weather, skies and clouds have evolved overtime and has also allowed me to decipher which movements I have naturally identified with in relation to others.