Four Times Trees took Center Stage in Art History

Along with providing  food, shade, greenery and oxygen, trees have long served as a pillar of inspiration. They have silently stood by while humankind has progressed, and given us the spark to move forward. An apple tree was responsible for giving us Newton’s theory of gravity, when a falling apple fell on the English scientist’s head. Likewise they have inspired famous names in science, art and American literature including writers like Faulkner, Kerouac, Welty and Wharton.

One very famous depiction of a tree in the history of art is by none other than famed artist Van Gogh. Painted in October 1889, an oil on canvas painting named Mulberry Tree features – yep, you’ve guessed it – a single golden Mulberry tree is one of the artist’s best works. He painted the famed tree between epileptic attacks, and an asylum in Saint-Rémy he checked himself into. mulberry-tree

In an ambitious project, art duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped trees with 592,015 square feet (55,000 square meters) of woven polyester fabric. The project took around 10 days to complete and left on the trees for another 3 weeks. The polyester billowed in the wind, creating “dynamic volumes of light and shadow and moving in the wind with new forms and surfaces shaped by the ropes on the fabric.”

 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrapped Trees

Sculptures with branches, with or without leaves or flowers, makes regular appearances in the art community. But it was in 2009, Roxy Paine’s most ambitious work, Maelstrom, that took New York’s breath away. Sitting on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it gave viewers the sense of being immersed in the midst of a cataclysmic force of nature.

Roxy Paine’s Maelstrom

Over a hundred years old, this timeless work of art, known as Autumn Trees, is a product of Egon Schiele. It now belongs to a private collector, and is an echo of his portraits featuring spindly limbs of nude models and himself.


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