Throughout time, clouds have formed appealing images for our imagination and are a constant source of fascination. We study their different formations, we are amazed by their versatility, and we observe their movements and nuances of colour. As shifting and changing phenomena, clouds "sketch themselves" and return endlessly as a form of public art, free and accessible to all. The infinitely variable clouds may be regarded as a metaphor for the foundational idea of Skissernas Museum/Museum of Public Art: artistic innovation and the creative process.
In visual arts and literature, clouds have often symbolized intangible beauty or represented the transience of life. From a historical perspective, however, images of clouds have played many different roles. In art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, clouds were religious and mythological symbols, often with the purpose of organizing the image and creating hierarchy. During recent centuries, clouds have been represented more realistically, both as meteorological phenomena and as romanticist natural expressions of the sublime.
Clouds are also an important source of inspiration for contemporary artists. The work may concern the weather, climate issues, and conceptual abstractions, but also atmosphere and nature. The idea of clouds as natural phenomena has partly changed, since with the aid of advanced technology we can now create artificial clouds that produce rain. With technology, we can even explode existing clouds to avoid precipitation or to create favourable conditions for a bomb attack. Artificial clouds are constantly seen in the sky when airplanes trace beautiful, yet frightening, patterns with their exhaust fumes. The horrifying memory of the atomic bomb's manmade mushroom-cloud is ever present in artists both in East and West. Today, the digital cloud constitutes an entirely new cloud metaphor – a media cloud that commercially and existentially overshadows and transforms our reality.
To make a comprehensive presentation of clouds in art would be almost as difficult as trying to catch clouds with a net or to attempt to put a pair of trousers on them, as Majakovskij expressed in "A Cloud in Trousers "(1915). The exhibition presents painting, sculpture, photography and film and includes sketches and models to public artworks of some twenty artists from the end of the eighteenth century to the present. The exhibition examines how clouds have been used to organize and communicate ideas. At the same time we are reminded that clouds not only act as captivating projections of our imagination, but that they can also express our anxieties and desires.
Johan Christian Dahl
Carl Fredrik Hill
Carl Johan De Geer
Bigert & Bergström