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Art Musings

Snow Day

It’s a new year, so that means it’s time for a new attempt at regular blogging. It’s funny that my last post was mentioning the unseasonably warm weather, considering yesterday was a mind boggling 50 degrees, in Chicago. In January. Today it finally decided to act like winter, and I was pleased to see the snow steadily falling when I looked out my bedroom window this morning. I am one of those rare people who loves snow – mainly because I rarely have to drive in it – and therefore I’m going to dedicate this post to snow’s aesthetic qualities. It sparkles, it coats everything dead and dreary in a clean coat of pure white, and it muffles all the noise, creating a comfortable sort of silence.

Kawase Hasui, Shiba Zojoji
Kawase Hasui, Shiba Zojoji (Zojo Temple, Shiba), from the series Tokyo nijukkei (Twenty views of Tokyo).
I’m a fan of Japanese prints in general, but I adore anything by Kawase Hasui. His work is always so ordered and saturated with color. This particular scene really resonates with me. Walking in a snowstorm can be secretly thrilling – alone against the elements, leaving your mark upon the world while knowing that nature will eventually erase all evidence of your passing.

Alfred Stieglitz, Flatiron building
Alfred Stieglitz, Flatiron Building, 1903.
This is one photo that has always stood out to me. The snowstorm gives the scene a haunting effect. Not only does a storm force people indoors, giving a usually bustling space like a public park a peculiar feeling of emptiness, it limits visibility, transforming the Flatiron building into an ominous tower cutting into the pale sky.

Claude Monet, Stacks of Wheat
Claude Monet, Stacks of Wheat (Sunset, Snow Effect), 1890/91.
One of snow’s wonderful qualities is that it makes everything more luminous, reflecting light and color. Its stark whiteness makes everything more brilliant by comparison. The color in this painting is amazing. Monet has perfectly captured the brilliant deep blue shadows that only seem to appear on snow.

Ansel Adams, Trees and Snow
Ansel Adams, Trees and Snow, 1933.
Snow covered tress are one of my favorite sights in winter. The snow seems to soften their stark lines and deadness, giving them a new purpose. The sharp contrast, the bold verticality, and the impenetrable wall of forest all make this an incredibly beautiful photograph.

Hopefully today is the first of many more snows to come.

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