In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia experienced a massive volcanic eruption. The eruption released a significant amount of ash into the atmosphere, causing a global dimming effect. This atmospheric phenomenon resulted in a decrease in average temperatures worldwide, leading to a range of consequences, including crop failures and epidemics.
This climatic event had an impact on the Romantic artists of the time. It proposes that the extraordinary dawn and dusk skies depicted in their paintings, often associated with the Romantic imagination, might have been directly influenced by the environmental changes caused by the volcanic eruption. This interpretation adds a new perspective to these landscape paintings, inviting viewers to consider the potential connection between the artists’ aesthetic choices and the climatic conditions of their era.
Plein air refers to the practice of painting outdoors, capturing the essence of nature directly on the canvas.
European artists like John Constable, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot made significant contributions to plein air painting, which later influenced important art movements.
John Constable (1776-1837) was an English landscape painter known for his realistic and atmospheric depictions of the countryside. He was deeply influenced by the Dutch landscape tradition and the plein air sketches of the 17th-century Dutch painters. Constable’s dedication to capturing the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere directly from nature was revolutionary for his time. His works, such as “The Hay Wain” and “The Cornfield,” emphasized the importance of observing and painting en plein air. Constable’s commitment to depicting the natural world with accuracy and emotional depth had a profound impact on later art movements, particularly the Barbizon School and Impressionism.
Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819) was a French painter and influential art educator. He played a crucial role in popularizing plein air painting during the late 18th century. Valenciennes emphasized the importance of studying and directly observing nature, advocating for artists to paint outdoors rather than solely relying on studio work. His book “Éléments de perspective pratique” (1800) provided practical guidance for landscape painters, promoting the idea of working en plein air and capturing the effects of natural light. Valenciennes’ teachings and advocacy for plein air painting laid the foundation for later generations of artists to explore the possibilities of direct observation and naturalistic representation.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was a French landscape painter who bridged the gap between the Neoclassical and Barbizon Schools. Corot’s approach to plein air painting involved making sketches and studies directly in nature, capturing the effects of light, atmosphere, and mood. His works often depicted tranquil and poetic landscapes, evoking a sense of harmony between humanity and nature. Corot’s ability to convey subtle tonal variations and his focus on capturing the fleeting qualities of light and atmosphere greatly influenced the Impressionist movement. Artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir regarded Corot as a pioneer of plein air painting and drew inspiration from his techniques and aesthetic sensibilities.
The relevance of plein air painting by artists like Constable, Valenciennes, and Corot extends beyond their own time. Their dedication to working directly from nature, capturing the essence of the natural world, and exploring the effects of light and atmosphere had a profound influence on later art movements.
The Barbizon School, a group of French painters active in the mid-19th century, embraced plein air painting and the realistic representation of landscapes. Artists such as Théodore Rousseau and Charles-François Daubigny, inspired by Constable and Valenciennes, ventured into the countryside to paint en plein air, focusing on capturing the mood and emotional resonance of nature.
The Impressionist movement, which emerged in the late 19th century, took plein air painting to new heights. Artists like Monet, Renoir, and Camille Pissarro embraced the practice of working outdoors, capturing the ephemeral qualities of light and atmosphere. Their emphasis on immediate, spontaneous brushwork and the depiction of shifting light and color owes much to the plein air techniques pioneered by earlier artists.
Overall, the plein air paintings of Constable, Valenciennes, and Corot laid the groundwork for later significant art movements. Their dedication to portraying the natural world with direct observation, atmospheric effects, and emotional depth influenced generations of artists who sought to capture the transient qualities of light, atmosphere, and the beauty of nature.
About this Collection on Objkt
This plein air painting project was initiated in 2014 by the painter Anders Gudmundson and has since produced a significant collection of cloud studies. These paintings were created in the vicinity of the village of Mästerby on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. The artist, inspired by the tradition of plein air painting, focused specifically on capturing the ever-changing beauty and ethereal nature of clouds.
In a contemporary context, the project has embraced new technological possibilities by minting the painting series as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) on the Objkt platform, which is known for its commitment to environmental sustainability as the “greenest NFT platform.” NFTs are digital tokens that represent ownership or proof of authenticity for a specific piece of digital content, such as artwork. By minting the cloud studies as NFTs, the artist aims to reach a broader audience and expand the accessibility and visibility of their work beyond traditional art gallery settings.
This transition to the digital realm through NFTs has several implications for the ongoing climate crisis. Firstly, by utilizing a platform committed to environmental sustainability, the artist demonstrates their concern for minimizing the ecological impact associated with digital art transactions. This aligns with the growing awareness within the art world regarding the carbon footprint of digital technologies.
Furthermore, by leveraging NFTs, the artist opens up new opportunities for engagement with their work. Digital platforms allow for wider dissemination of art, transcending geographical limitations and enabling viewers from around the world to experience and appreciate the cloud studies. This accessibility promotes a global dialogue about the beauty of nature, the impact of climate change, and the need for environmental conservation.
The use of NFTs also introduces interesting discussions about the value and ownership of digital art. As these cloud studies are transformed into unique digital assets, their scarcity and ownership are established through blockchain technology. This innovative approach challenges traditional notions of art ownership and opens up possibilities for artists to directly engage with their audience and be fairly compensated for their work.
Overall, the minting of the plein air cloud studies as NFTs on the Objkt platform represents a convergence of traditional artistic practices with contemporary technological advancements. By embracing digital platforms in a sustainable manner, the artist seeks to raise awareness about the climate crisis, broaden their audience, and foster discussions about the evolving nature of art in the digital age.