The Numinosity of Clouds

Creative exercise: Spend long periods of time contemplating tea stains on a napkin or clouds in the sky. Imagine magnificent creatures and landscapes, let your imagination run wild!

“I love the clouds… the clouds that pass…
up there… up there… the wonderful clouds!”
[The Stranger, Charles Baudelaire]

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And if you’re a hard-core cloud lover, you might even consider joining the Cloud Appreciation Society!

Here’s a peek from their manifesto:

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.

Now let’s look at some Clouds in Art:

Berndnaut Smilde

Dutch artist Berndnault Smilde is known for his man-made indoor clouds. He makes them from a combination of “frozen smoke” and moisture and he immortalises them in photographs.

Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.

John Baldessari

Clouds have featured in many of this Californian artist’s work. He’s represented the cloud as a brain, and he’s tried to mimic the shapes of clouds using cigar smoke.

Brain Cloud. John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain Cloud. John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain/Cloud (Two Views): With Palm Tree and Seascapes (made especially for the LACMA edition of Pure Beauty). John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain/Cloud (Two Views): With Palm Tree and Seascapes (made especially for the LACMA edition of Pure Beauty). John Baldessari. 2009.
Cigar Smoke to Match Clouds that are the same. John Baldessari. 1973-1973.
Cigar Smoke to Match Clouds that are the Same. John Baldessari. 1973-1973.

Vik Muniz

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz created the wonderful series, Equivalents, where he photographed cotton wool clouds in various different shapes. Can you picture them in the sky?

Equivalents Series, Kitty. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Kitty. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Teapot. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Teapot. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Pig. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Pig. Vik Muniz. 1997.

René Magritte

And, of course, there’s the Belgian Surrealist artist, René Magritte. Clouds were a recurring theme in his work and are said to represent the unconscious mind. He was known for his witty and thought-provoking images which challenged preconditioned perceptions of reality.

The Future of Statues. René Magritte. 1937.
The Future of Statues. René Magritte. 1937.
La Magie Noire. René Magritte. 1945.
La Magie Noire. René Magritte. 1945.