Christmas Cards from Hell

As the postman brings you cheery season’s greetings from your nearest and dearest, let me guess what the images are on the front of your Christmas cards. Chubby robins? Jolly Santas? Snowy picturesque villages? And of course, the obligatory Nativities.

But this year let ’ s take a spirit at some quite more strange winter art. They may not make it onto the movement of a Christmas tease, but if you ’ re feeling aweary of the glitter and forced bonhomie, then this article is decidedly for you !

1. Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Winter, 1573, Bavarian State Painting Collection, Munich, Germany.

Number 1 in my top ten-spot is this gnarled wonder by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. This italian painter is best known for his charming portraits composed entirely of fruits, vegetables and flowers. His winter portrait with stump-headed figure, twist roots and fungal lips is the farce of nightmares. Is this flightiness, the product of a dis-ordered mind or a cagey salesman catering to the tastes of the time ? Who knows, but when you ’ ve seen one Arcimboldo you ’ ll never forget it .

2. Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich, Polar Sea, 1823-1824, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.

The Polar Sea by Caspar David Friedrich shows a ship slowly being crushed by erose chunks of rock and sea frost. This inhospitable view is barren of human life, except for that bantam, bankrupt vessel. The ice takes center stage, grotesque in its might and destructive force. possibly a metaphor for global calamity that speaks to us today ?

3. Ivan Shishkin

Ivan Shishkin, In the Wild North, 1891, Kyiv National Picture Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine.

In a similarly bare picture by Ivan Shishkin, we see a alone pine, bending under its burden of snow. All around it, we see endless winter in drab shades. not even the cold moon can cast unaccented down into the cryptic, darkness gorge beneath the tree. The black bile in this paint is palpable – this actually is the raving mad North .

4. Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

I wasn ’ thyroxine surely whether to include this one. I mean it does occur on Christmas cards and most people have seen it. But I want to take another look at Hunters in the Snow. At foremost glance a preferably romantic wintry landscape possibly ? A busy chivalric picture of rural life, just look at those skaters and the gorgeous snow-white peaks. But then look at the hunters – they are exhausted, their dogs are skinny and dark. In fact at this point in history, the population was in the deadly grip of a miniskirt ice age. Snowfalls were dense, advancing glaciers destroyed pastures and crops failed. A grim earned run average in which many of the paint ’ randomness inhabitants would have died. not in truth very “ Christmassy. ”

5. Jules Adler

Jules Adler, The Weary, 1897, Musee Calvet, Avignon, France.

debauched forward from the rural poor to the urban hapless of 19th-century Europe where we see a series of paintings from artists sometimes dubbed ‘ The Miserabilistes. ” Confronting the betroth of the urban poor head-on, these paintings were meant to shock the comfortable in-between classes into action. The aweary by Jules Adler shows working people heading to their meager homes on a cold, dampen winter evening.

6. John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais, Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind, 1892, Aukland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

Thought to have been inspired by a scene John Everett Millais actually witnessed, Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind is a heart-breaking picture set in a bleak landscape. A shivering mother attempts to shelter and feed her baby as the don walks away into the howling gale. Is he leaving or just checking the road ahead ? We don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know. But the dog crying out into the sky seems to indicate that this is not going to end well .

7. Louis Sparre

Louis Sparre, First Snow, 1891, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland.

Louis Sparre was a swedish painter, potter and graphic designer. First Snow is a somber inside setting. In a spartan hovel a mother and child sit in near darkness as the first snow of the winter begins to fall. There is no please excitation here. Snow means cold, asperity and a farseeing winter ahead .

8. Christian Krohg

Christmas Cards from HellChristian Krohg, The Struggle For Existence, 1889, National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.

For the poor winter was not a time for snuggling by the ardor and eating Christmas treats. It was possibly the worst meter of class. christian Krohg explored this expertly in his paint of Karl Johan Street in Oslo . Struggle for Existence is our featured visualize at the begin of this article, and shows a desert street in the depths of winter. Crowded into the bottom left hand corner our hearts are broken by a tightly packed crowd of poor women and children, as they reach for stale honest-to-god bread, being given away by the baker. The torment crowd attend longingly up at the bread roll being held aloft by a disembody bridge player behind the column. only one little male child looks out at us with dark tire eyes, cap pulled polish to his ears to keep out the cold, clutching his bread in his pale, thin hired hand .

9. Hans Balusheck

Christmas Cards from HellHans Balusheck, Cold, 1917, private collection. The Athenaeum.

Hans Baluschek was an artist who returned again and again to wintery scenes as a symbol of the miss of compassion within humanity. December is a bare field whose barb wire fence is festooned with abruptly soldiers. Snowed In shows a gray, cloudy flip hanging ominously over a group of bony soldiers, about hidden under a freeze layer of snow, their cannon lying useless and idle beside them. Deep Snow shows a mucky, smog-filled yellow flip with snow failing to cover the ugliness of an industrial landscape. The visualize shown above is just entitle Cold. Grim faced workers cross a bridge over a freeze canal as chimneys belch cruddy smoke into a dull sky .

10. Wassily Kandinsky

Christmas Cards from HellWassily Kandinsky, Winter Landscape, 1909, Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

But I leave you with something slightly bright. If I asked you to paint a winter visualize, what tinge palette would you reach for ? White, grey, shadow blue ? not Wassily Kandinsky, whose Winter Landscape bursts with dazzling hues of pink, chicken, green and bluing. Kandinsky developed a theory of color wholly unlike other artists. Was this artist a synesthete ? Almost surely yes, as this landscape surely seems to hum with sound and palpate a well as color .

I hope your Holidays are as festive and bright as a Kandinsky’s art, but remember to share a thought, and a little more, for those whose winter may not be as happy…

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