Time in Art

Human beings are preoccupied with time. We measure it down to the thousandths of a second and I still can’t grasp its essence however often I plunge into Stephen Hawking’s Brief History.  I know it moves and I move along with it. Einstein proved that its pace is relative to what we happen to be doing. There’s the time that’s already gone by and the time yet to come. In between is the present, the moment, which humans who know these things say lasts about fifteen seconds before they slip simultaneously into past and future.

Artists have always explored the possibilities of rendering time visible. Objects move through space in time, so the illusion or representation of motion in art is also a way of suggesting time. The artwork in this series explores the visual manifestation of time, whatever it is.

Do the paintings and sculpture in this ongoing series offer fresh insight on time in your life? And does your altered thinking help you deal with its swift passage?

Curator for the Time in Art series is the internationally known artist, Jim Youngerman. You can view his work online at (jimyoungerman.com)

Hungarian artist Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), considered by many to be the father of Modern Sculpture. In Bird in Space, 1923, he captures the idea of flight in a very fixed medium, bronze, and marble.

A sleek, 54” high form depicts the flight of a bird rather than its anatomy.

On viewing this sculpture, the passage of time is sensed as one sees the arc of flight.

Bird in Space; marble, 1923

Haystacks at Dusk, Haystacks (Mid-day), Haystacks (End of Summer, Morning); oil on canvas, 1891

Claude Monet (1840-1926) studied changing light upon objects as a way of expressing the Impressionist point of view.

We’ve selected 3 paintings from Monet’s series of haystack paintings done between the summer of 1890 and the spring of 1891. The subject doesn’t change from painting to painting, but the evolving light upon the haystacks and surrounding fields does change from dawn to dusk.

This depiction of the light on the surface of the objects evokes not only an intellectual recognition of the passing of time but also an emotional one.

SALVADOR DALI (1904-1989) made extensive use of symbolism in his work, sometimes getting very literal by portraying time as melting clocks.

These iconic images first appeared in his work in The Persistence of Memory, reflecting Einstein’s theory that time is relative, not fixed. Dali’s surrealist art was also influenced by Freud’s theories of the unconscious and dream interpretation — though, according to The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, the idea for the melting timepieces in the painting shown below came to Dalí when he was staring at a runny piece of Camembert cheese on a hot summer day.

Time in Art 5
The Persistence of Memory; oil on canvas, 1931

Top photo: Charles & Ray Eames posing on a Velocette motorcycle, 1948.