Windy Paintings for a Breath of Fresh Air

Magda Michalska 14 August 2019 min Read

It's so hot in where I live at the moment, the air is stale and inert, everything seems to be suspended in time and space. I'm producing waterfalls of sweat, praying on my balcony for a tiny breeze and hoping to call the winds with windy paintings.

Waiting on a Balcony

Francisco Goya, Majas on a Balcony, 1808, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA.

There are two versions of this work and this one hosted by the MET has been believed since 1995 to be a copy. Nevertheless, the iconography is the same, it shows two elegant courtesans, the 'maja', taking a break at a balcony and watching the passersby, accompanied by two sketchy masked men, most probably their pimps.

Windy Paintings
Victor Borisov-Musatov, On a Balcony, 1899, Serpukhov Museum of History and Fine Arts, Serpukhov, Russia.

Or on a Hammock

Windy Paintings
Diego Rivera, The Hammock, 1956, Dolores Olmedo Museum, Mexico, Mexico.

Rivera, known for his communist links, was receiving medical treatment for cancer in Moscow but he didn't later make it to the list of patients sent to a cure house. Therefore, he returned to Mexico where his old-time friend Dolores Olmedo invited him over to her house in Acapulco (much better a place than Moscow for convalescence, I bet). The house was located near La Quebrada, which was an ideal location for the painter who painted the spectacular beach and the bay at different times of the day. To kill his time, but also to express his gratitude for the hospitality of his friend, he portraited the daughter of Dolores Olmedo and a friend (notice the notebooks on the ground, somebody was supposed to study...).

And When the Wind Finally Arrives...

Windy Paintings
Yves Tanguy, Wind, 1927, private collection.

Tanguy decided to become a painter by chance. He saw a work by Giorgio de Chirico in one of the Parisian cafes and that was it. In 1924, he moved together with his friend and poet Jacques Prévert, and Marcel Duhamel, which in 1925 became a hub for the Surrealist movement, after André Breton had welcomed Tanguy into the group. Tanguy didn't have formal training in fine arts (he was a merchant and a soldier), he quickly developed an original style and already in 1927 had his first solo show at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris. The style is distinctive for landscapes with the recurring various rock formations which Tanguy remembered from his times as a soldier in Africa.

... and Turns into a Tornado...

Windy Paintings
Thomas Cole, A Tornado in the Wilderness, 1835, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA.

Ever heard of Thomas Cole? Yes, he was the father of Hudson River School, the American Romantic movement in art from the 19th century. Born in the UK, he emigrated to the US with his family at the age of 17. First he lived in Ohio to then move to Philadelphia, to eventually settle in the state of New York. He was a self-taught painter since he was trained and worked as an engraver.

...that You Need Some Proper Help

Albrecht Durer, Four Angels Staying the Winds and Signing the Chosen, 1498, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany.

What 'Chosen' are we talking about? In this woodcut we have a scene from the Book of Revelation, in which at the end of times the Four Angels will come to calm the four winds (which are also symbols of the great empires of antiquity) while another angel has marked with the protective `seal of the living God' the foreheads of all the Christians (Rev. 7:1-3).