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Serene, cloudy or starry, the sky above the surface of the Earth, above our heads, is aconstantin Modern and Contemporary wall art, unrelenting and obsessive source of inspiration. Also called the “celestial sphere”, in the field of astronomy, this abstract sphere influences our moods, our moments of torment, anger or happiness. It is a reflection of ourexistence, many painters’raison d’être and means of expression. 

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We guide you towards a state of contemplation through these 10 mid century Modern and Contemporary wall art, lifting “the skin of the sky”. To paraphrase Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy, soon “we’ll come forth, and once more contemplate the sky”.

 

1. Kristina Milakovic, Sky is Over, 2020. 

Born in Belgrade in 1976, Kristina Milakovic shapes the canvases by recreating memories of her emotional journeys through environmental and architectural realms. To her, sky is a timeless plastic organism. Dreamlike, unreal, suspended. This Introspective landscape is captured in its ephemeral nature. Often, in her works, imaginary cities, rural landscapes, and broken skies are in a constant struggle between what is real and what is possible. The sky has almost ended up imploding in itself, right in front of our astonished eyes. And if, on the one hand, the sky is over, on the other, it opens up into infinite possibilities.

 

Kristina Milakovic, Sky is Over, 2020. 

 

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2. Michael K. Yamaoka, Rainbow at the Eiffel Tower, 2004.

After the storm, comes the rainbow. Japanese-American award-winning photographer Michael K Yamaoka (b. 1940) is very influenced by the writings of Baudelaire. Coming from a Zen Buddhist family background, his evocative places and skies are imbued with solitude, impermanence and decay, and the solace they bring. The rainbow reflects the accidental juxtaposition of things, those lucky chances to see, in-between old buildings, something unexpected and somehow miraculous. Over the course of his travels, Yamaoka has learned to see the whole world and its history as a symphony. “Everywhere I pointed my camera there is beauty and sublime”, he admits.

 

Michael K. Yamaoka, Rainbow at the Eiffel Tower, 2004.

 

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3. Alex Katz, Sunset Cove (Small Cuts), 2008.

In this elegant, simple, and stylized aquatint, part of the portfolio "Small Cuts”, New York School painter Alex Katz explores the themes of nature, perception, the passage of time, poetry, and contemporary notions of the sublime. Between formalism and representation, abstract and conceptual, his brightly orange sunset, superimposed on a soft colored sky, is rendered in a flat style, like a glued cut-out. As he starts painting in the morning and paint throughout the day, this is a sky with a sunset in progress. Starting from an idea of art, Katz gets to develop something outside of, and beyond him.

 

Alex Katz, Sunset Cove (Small Cuts), 2008.

 

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4. Julia Fullerton-Batten, Ann, Lockdown Day 74, From the series Looking Out from Within, 2020.

Worldwide acclaimed fine art and commercial British photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten (b.1970), with her series Looking Out from Within, wants to turn on a light on this very strange time. But from a different perspective. Looking outside the window, to look inside ourselves. “We have probably been less seriously affected by the virus than many other people”, still the lady, holding a flower in her hands, is naturally anxious about the outcome, and look at the changing sky with melancholy. The atmosphere is saturated with pink. We miss friends. We miss theatres, cinemas, and clubs. We miss the poetry of the world outside.

 

Julia Fullerton-Batten, Ann, Lockdown Day 74, From the series Looking Out from Within, 2020.

 

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5. Franck Bailleul, De ma fenêtre, 2020.

The sky from Franck Bailleul’s window is the typical sky of a city in an intermediate season.  Partially cloudy, layered, with skeins of cerulean gray. French Painter, born in 1964, has the habit of painting aerial landscapes crossed by clouds or starry. Graceful skies, sometimes stormy, even calm and voluptuous. The sky has no limit even if it is the limit itself. Bailleul is particularly fascinated by the changeability of the sky, the poetry of nature and the sense of spirituality that slow contemplation transmits. His dialectic between light and shadow, fluidity and stasis, transparency and opacity celebrates “the generosity of skies”.

 

Franck Bailleul, De ma fenêtre, 2020.

 

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6. René Magritte, La Bataille de l’Argonne, 2019.

In this surreal, color lithograph by Belgian-born artist René Magritte(1898 - 1967), two seemingly opposite forms, a large cloud and an equally large stone face each other, floating in the sky above a serene landscape. Independent of the law of physics, the giant stone appears as weightless as the cloud. The thin moon, the soft cloud and the boulder transport us into other realms in a state of total serenity, outside time. “The world of stone” is blue, gravity is a matter of poetry and the problem of weightlessness has more to do with the philosophical dimension than the scientific dimension.

 

René Magritte, La Bataille de l’Argonne, 2019.

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7. Antonio Ligabue, Cane con paesaggio, 1953. 

From the seriesRecent Paintings, Dog with Landscapeby Italian naïve master Antonio Ligabue (1899- 1965) presents has all the colors of the rainbow. The sky in different time phases, before, after and during a storm. At the center of the picture, there is not only the dog, the animals are the leitmotif of all Ligabue's production, but also the ductility and impermanence of the sky. Also in this case, the variables of the sky, in thick and dense brushstrokes, are used as a metaphor for the erratic human psyche and mental illness, since Ligabue was hospitalized for “manic-depressive psychosis”.

 

Antonio Ligabue, Cane con paesaggio, 1953. 

 

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8. Bruno Munari, Lei non sa che la guardiamo, 1991.

It does not know that we look at it. What? the moon. This large-sized serigraph by Italian artist, designer, and inventor Bruno Munari (1907 - 1998) is a visual poem to the moon and the wonders of the sky. With its childish freshness, it is a simple, immediate, but captivating image. A visual game and nursery rhyme for children and also for adults. With its minimal and abstract-geometrical quality, the moon phases reveal us Brunaris’ aesthetic philosophy, in all its dramatic sweetness and intensity. In the darkness of the sky, the moon appears as a bubble of goldfish, liquid and vibrant through an apparent glass.

 

Bruno Munari, Lei non sa che la guardiamo, 1991.

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9. Gustav Klimt, House on Attersee, 1931.

Austrian symbolistpainter Gustav Klimt(1862 - 1918) cruised his boat to the same spot at which the lake was painted, so the viewer can enjoy a tightly framed shot of the village. This is a world devoid of people and of the sky, something that we have all experienced during this year of pandemic and lockdown. The “top” is reflected in the bottom, in a more symbolic than real way. The technique of collotype model a schematicstructureof shapes and forms, similar to a Cubist landscape. The blocks of grays and blacks give the work an unusual energy, for which the eye is forced in a zigzag motion. Perhaps looking for a piece of sky. 

 

Gustav Klimt, House on Attersee, 1931.

 

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10. Salvador Dalì, Myself at the Age of Six, Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Skin of the Sea to Observe the Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Water, 1988.

This surreal etching by Salvador Dalí, one of the most well known artists of the twentieth century, is based on the original work from 1950. Depicted in watercolour, gouache and pencil, the scene shows a child at the Mediterranean, portrayed with an anatomically well-defined and muscular body, but with an innocent looking face. As the child, in the role of Dalì, enigmatically, lifts the sea water like a veil to notice the dog sleeping under it, the painter discloses his childhood memories. The skin of the sea also seems to reflect the blue of the sky and some delicate clouds.

 

Salvador Dalì, Myself at the Age of Six, Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Skin of the Sea to Observe the Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Water, 1988.

 

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Cover image: Michael K. Yamaoka, Rainbow at the Eiffel Tower, 2004.

Written by Petra Chiodi

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

 

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