Exploring the realm of Lunar Art and the reasons behind artists' intrigue with the moon.

  • Posted by: Rupashree Ravi

Exploring the realm of Lunar Art and the reasons behind artists' intrigue with the moon.

Humankind has always appreciated the moon's beauty and mystery in its full glory. The moon, in turn, has influenced not only scientists and astronomers but also artists throughout history, who have incorporated the celestial being into our beliefs and worldview. It has played a significant role in contemporary art, depicting different themes of longing, romance, and melancholy.

The crescent moon is also an important symbol in Islam and is used during the holy month of Ramadan.

The moon in art has changed through the ages yet has survived various art movements. Some of the earliest depictions of the moon include artworks on landscapes and war. An artist known for his powerful marine paintings, William Turner began using the moon to deal with stormy and turbulent scenes at the sea. His paintings, Fishermen at Sea and Moonlight, a Study at Millbank emphasised emotions and an atmosphere of a catastrophe, with the use of a dark colour palette.

Image Source: Fishermen at Sea by Joseph Mallord William Turner, Tate Modern, London, UK, 1796

As Romanticism emerged in the 18th century, it changed the way artists viewed the beauty of nature and its aesthetics. Caspar David Friedrich began a series of paintings to show spirituality in nature and mystical scenery, where the moon is a dramatic, but natural phenomenon that can see beyond the human eye. Two Men Contemplating the Moon and Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon were some of his best works, among many.

Image Source: Two Men Contemplating the Moon by Casper David Friedrich, Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden, 1819-20.

Perhaps one painting of the moon in art whose fame knows no bounds is Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night. Widely regarded as one of the most recognisable paintings in the modern world, it has expressive vivid colours and stylised brushwork. A depressed and tortured artist, he painted from his asylum room window overlooking the village. His idea of the moon is rather symbolic, as we can see even in his other works like White House At Night.

Image Source: The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1889.

Our own artists have also taken inspiration from the moon in their works. Check out Andrew Vicari's Cavaliers Nomades Au Crepuscule, Mona Kfoury's Sail Under The Moon and Beirut in the Dark, Jorge Ferrari's Ramadan over Sharjah Mosque, Yousif Alharmoodi's Moon Star and Rohit Rattan's Imagining.

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Feature image: Andrew Vicari