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looking back

an ode to four seasons past and present

October 09, 2009

an ode to four seasons past and present

Mucha from artexpertswebsite.com

As we bid farewell to the sunny days of yet another LA summer, we welcome cool weather, pumpkin lattes and girls who pair short skirts with massive sheepskin boots  the signs of an “LA winter.”

The four seasons – each uniquely beautiful in its own way – have served as muses for artists past and present for many years. Changing temperatures and colors and smells and sensations are rich material for artistic inspiration. Perhaps one of the most famous incarnations of four-seasons-inspired art is Antonio Vivaldi’s beautiful set of concertos, The Four Seasons. In honor of our opening concert, Four Seasons, let’s look at some of the most awe-inspiring artistic interpretations of winter, spring, summer and fall.

Personally, one of my favorite examples of this genre is Czech artist Alphonse Mucha’s Four Seasons, a set of four gorgeous painted panels. He conveys the disparate seasons by surrounding his highly-stylized, beautiful women with elements of the natural world. The expressions on the women’s faces convey the emotional range that the changing seasons represent, a parallel between the natural world and the human experience.

In poetry and prose, the natural world and the seasons within it have inspired countless works, from Wordsworth’s daffodils to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Winter, spring, summer and fall have also served as metaphorical representations of the stages of human life. Romantic poet John Keats’s The Human Seasons (1818) is a contemplative example of such a metaphor:

Four seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring’s honey’d cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness- to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

The four seasons are well represented in rock music. Turn on your favorite radio station, and you can walk in a winter wonderland or celebrate those summer nights. Check out this list of songs with seasons in the title, and see how many you can think of.

What season-inspired artwork do you love? Comment below. Can’t think of one? Write a little poem about your favorite season. And be there when LACO performs Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on October 17 and 18.

1 comment

Drought, fire, flood, earthquake
Silly easterners, you call
LA seasonless?

  • —Michelle, October 13, 2009 11:16 pm

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