Walks That Inspired Famous Art

by Aileen Mitchell 13. May 2016 15:38

National Walking Month

To celebrate National Walking Month this May, we take a look at some of the ways that walking has influenced some of the world's most famous and creative artists. Not only does walking get people from A to B, it helps stimulate the brain and gets the cognitive and creative juices flowing.

Many of ArtGallery's own wonderful artists take inspiration from walking, which is something they share with some of the most famous artists from Munch, to Gormley. 

The walk that inspired the Scream

 

The famous, The Scream, series came as an inspiration to Edvard Munch whilst he was out walking with his friends in Oslo. Munch wrote a poem on the frame of the original pastel of The Scream, which reveals how he was influenced to create this iconic scene:

"I was walking along the road with two friends,
the sun was setting - the sky turned a bloody red,
and I felt a whiff of melancholy - I stood,
still, deathly tired - over the blue-black
fjord and city hung blood and tongues or fire.
My friends walked on - I remained behind
shivering with anxiety - I felt the great scream in nature."

City walking with van Gogh

 

For a period, Van Gogh lived in Brixton, London. During his stay, he made sure that he went of plenty of walks both in and out of the city. We know this from the letters he wrote to his brother. In one he wrote, "I walk here as much as I can. It's absolutely beautiful even though it's a city."

Coastline ghosts

 

From coastlines walks to rambles through fields, Antony Gormley's art is continually inspired by the relationship between people and nature. The figures commonly used in his work are casts of himself, which reflect how much Gormley himself goes on the walks featured in his sculpture exhibitions. 

Visitors are also encouraged to walk amongst the sculptures and interact with the landscape around them. 

In 1997, three years after winning the Turner prize, Gormley created the sculpture, Another Place. The piece involves over 100 life-size cast iron figures of Gormley spread over Crosby beach in Southport, looking out to the Irish sea. The sculptures are spread out for around two miles along the beach. 

Walking on thin ice

Contemporary Dutch artist and film maker, Guido van der Werve uses walking as the inspiration for many of his thought provoking video pieces. 

Nummer acht, everything is going to be alright, one of his most famous works, shows Werve walking calmly across open plains of ice directly in front of an ice-breaker. Of course, without the trick of the lens this wouldn't be possible. Although Werve is some distance from the ice-breaker, he uses walking to create the sense of drama and shock in his film.

The speed and non-harassed way that Werve walks inspires the viewers to think about the fragility of life, the human form, and the power of nature (after they've got over the urge to shout, "run!"). 

This piece is one of the most dramatic works of art that focuses on the act of walking - a truly inspired video, if not a bit stressful to watch.

The mechanics of walking

Contemporary maker Theo Jansen uses plastic tubing and sheeting - but never electronics - to create his kinetic sculptures. These seemingly organic structures are powered by wind to move in an uncanny way across surfaces. Jansen's machines explore the mechanics of walking, showing us how we ourselves are part-machine. 

We'd be interested to know how walking has inspired you as an artist or as an art lover. 

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