Lydia Fox
Imagine walking down the path, watching the petals being whipped about, seeing the newly blossomed leaves on the trees being ruffled; this is all controlled and governed by wind, an invisible force. Although people are able to see the effects of wind, this force of nature is never seen, as if it is magic. Wind is a mercurial object, often heard and felt but never predictable; wind can be a gentle caress or a hard thump of a fist upon an entire country. Despite these visual obstacles, for centuries artists have tried to capture the essence of wind through various forms, mediums, and interpretations. Representations of wind have been made throughout history, from prehistoric times with Stonehenge to modern times with Wind Dance. The materials also vary widely; stone, polyester resin, and oils. All of the artworks share a similar characteristic though; they all modeled on a dream world, not on reality. Wind seems to draw the inner dreamer in people, or outer in the case of many artists, because of its mysterious and invisible forces.

It is believed that Stonehenge could have been used to create music through wind. This is only a theory and still heavily debated by historians, but if you listen carefully, you can hear sounds created by the wind hitting against the stones. There are two different theories that both correspond to music; one states that the stones themselves are arranged in a way to produce sounds through wind, and the other states that the way that the stones are arranged creates intriguing and odd sound waves and patterns, causing the sound an instrument to be amplified. Both are highly intriguing, and are currently being tested and more heavily researched. However, it is very unlikely that Stonehenge was designed for a singular use; more likely, it was designed as a religious place, a gathering place, a time clock, or a tomb ground, with music being an secondary design feature. Stonehenge, because of its age and lack of written resources during its creation, is and most likely always will be a mystery. It is whimsical, though, to think about this enormous stone sculpture created simply to generate music.

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous Post Impressionist painters and his most famous work is the breathtaking Starry Night. Using his signature sweeping brushstroke style, Van Gogh paints an imaginary landscape with a dancing, star-filled sky.The night sky is like a fairy landscape, wi751px-VanGogh-starry_night_edit.jpgth strokes of pure color splattered throughout the sky. This is another representation of wind and how wind can guide and move even the stars. The features of every aspect in this work are exaggerated to create a sense of drama and suspense. The cyprus tree in the immediate foreground is painted to appear as a fire, with its arms being pulled higher and higher towards the sky by the swirling wind. The stars glow with an inner luminance. The wind is shown as a lighter path in the tumbling sky through vortexes and swirls. The wind also helps direct the eye towards the main feature, the bright crescent moon. The work was created in 1889 in France while Van Gogh looked out of his window. He was inspired by the landscape, but the final result is more of an imaginative piece, rather than a realistic landscape.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler painted the stunning Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket. This dramatic painting drew upon his experience with outside cultures, especially Japanese artwork, called Japonisme. This piece allows the viewer, who in modern times is often considered the most important part of the artwork, to decide what the image means and represents. The gold flecks, for example, to me appear to be embers, blown up by the wind from a bonfire on the river. To another person, this painting could have a completely different meaning. The painting in and of itself is dramatic, with mammoth black figures and shapes on the horizon and splashes of bright color seemingly thrown onto the canvas. Similar to other paintings in the latter half of the 19th century, Nocturne is spatially ambiguous; it is difficult to make out the background, or even the foreground. There is something that appears to be burning in the background, recognizable by a brighter color and a cloud of smoke. This painting is currently on display in the Detroit Institute of Arts. When this was first exhibited in 1877, many found this painting to be too messy and even insulting. These critics were supporters and members of Art Academies in Europe, with the French being the most powerful and strong. Another criticism was that the painting held no social value, no morals; it was abstract, not instructional. Whistler defended his piece as "artistic arrangements whose worth lay not in any imitative aspects but in their basis in transcendent ideals of harmony and beauty." (smarthistory).

Vladislav Novikov-Barkovsky is a Russian artist who attempts to literally portray wind as a human, creating mesmerizing faces out of a polyester resin or acrylic blend. Coming directly from his imagination, the faces seem to be wind covered by a piece of cloth, showing the outline of the face. The actual face is not stationary; like the wind, the faces appear to be in constant motion. The faces are a series of seven called Wind Dance, and each face is individual and unique. The faces are out of a dream world, where animals can talk and the wind takes a human form. The works were started as recently as five years ago. The artist is not well established yet, but if his work continues in a positive direction, he has the potential to become sensational.

Alexander Calder, the inventor of the mobile, is another artist who deals with wind and its movement. His artworks rely on the movement of air, or wincalder.jpgd. Mobiles are sculptures dangling in the air. Without the wind, there is no movement or meaning to the mobile. This particular artwork, Rouge Triomphant, or Red Triumph, hangs in the Gagosian Gallery in Rome, Italy. This is a monumental sculpture that is designed for movement, or at the very least, the suggestion of movement. The movement of his pieces are random and have no pattern; they are controlled by the unpredictable nature of wind. Turning traditional sculptural beliefs, quite literally, upside down, Calder creates a way, Red Triumph included, to construct a monumental sculpture that does not rise from a ground level. Calder also creates movement through the bending and twisting of wire in unusual shapes. On one level this is a three dimensional sculpture that hangs in space, a mobile. On another level, this sculpture can also be seen as a two dimensional painting; the mobiles have a quality of flatness, perhaps from the flat, cut out shapes that dangle from the wires. His mobiles are often made out of industrial materials that have a singular, bold color. In Red Triumph, perhaps obviously, red is the featured color. Only one cut out shape is a color, an oblong red shape that makes the sculpture more dramatic.

running fence.jpg
In the desert north of San Francisco is a fence made out of billowing white fabric. The project of husband and wife sculptors Christo and Jean-Claude, this 18 feet high, 24.5 mile Running Fence is made out of heavy woven white nylon fabric, and was taken down approximately two weeks after it was completed. The entirety of this work relies on nature, and the contrast between the white fabric and the browns and greens of its surroundings. Wind plays a key role in this artwork, as the fabric is designed to be pushed and shaped by the wind. In this particular picture, you can see the direction of the wind at a particular moment in time. Interestingly, the direction of the wind could be going one way at one end of the fence and switch directions by the time you get to the other end.

The famous Winged Nike of Samothrace is the figurehead of a ship from ancient Greece. Tnike.jpghis sculpture, even while missing its head, embodies power, strength, and even femininity. Nike is the winged representation of victory, which is accurately portrayed in this sculpture. The goddess was meant to be shown descending from the skies, hence the thrown back wings and sense of movement. The winnike2.jpgd creates drama, with the clothing being pushed back from the body and the wings thrown backwards. Adding to the power and drama, the body is tilted slightly forwards, as if to look down on humans and intimidate. At the same time the torso of the body is vertical, making her look above everyone and everything. The actual sculpture is made out of marble, and includes deep grooves to show folds and drapery in the fabric. This was made to commemorate a victorious sea battle, and the sculpture seems to be a successful representation of that victory. This was made ca. 190 BC, and is currently located in the Louvre in Paris.

Wind might not be the first thing that comes to peoples' minds when they think about art. However, wind is incorporated in some way in nearly every artwork, from prehistoric art to contemporary art. Any breeze, and generally any portrayed movement is representing wind. Wind is one of the more overlooked aspect of art beacuse of its lack of physical shape and properties. Movement is crucial to many types andstyles of art, and whether the artwork is a building, sculpture, or painting movement is represented many times with wind. All of the above artworks; Stonehenge, Starry Night, Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket, Running Fence, Wind Dance, Nike of Samothrace and Rouge Triomphe exemplify the power that wind has to take a piece from mundane to magical. Wind can create a greater drama, show a story or path, and even depict emotions and feelings. Wind is one of the most powerful forces in an artwork, and deserves to be given a closer look.