Having just endured over a week of below freezing temperatures, with expected snow on the way, we’re certain that many of you are probably beginning to feel fed up with the cold. For instance, have you grown weary of trekking over New York’s answer to the Himalayas at every corner, the towering frozen masses of garbage in the snow [not to mention the ubiquitous yellow "variety" laced within, among other things...]? Are you fatigued from spending ten minutes each morning putting on more layers than a lasagna?  Well, at the risk of inviting a stream of criticism, we can happily state that we’re actually rather die-hard fans of ALL four seasons. There is something about snow that is particularly fascinating, which is why we decided to dedicate this post to highlighting a small selection of the many artworks in the SVA Image Library revolving around….you guessed it: snow!

Image of “The Sea of Ice,” a landscape painting of 1823–1824 by Caspar David Friedrich, depicts a shipwreck in the middle of a broken ice-sheet, whose shards have piled up after the impact. "Snow Storm" by Turner, showing a blurry scene of a boat in the middle of the ocean during an intense snow storm. Black and white photograph of a line of boys walking in snow at nighttime, entitled “Boys singing songs to drive evil birds away (from Snow Country, a Record of Folk Customs during the Lunar New Year Celebrations in Niigata Prefecture),” by Hamaya.
It can be wildly dangerous [Friedrich, Turner] or mysterious and contemplative [Hamaya].
Monet’s “Stack of Wheat,” which shows a wheat stack in the foreground, in a snowy landscape with trees and mountains in the background. Snow scene in Utagawa Hiroshige’s “Atagoshita and Yabu Lane, No. 112 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,” featuring bright colors against falling snow with people walking next to a drainage channel to the right, the Atagoshita district in the background, and a hill rising to the right. Photo of Alexander Calder’s hanging sculpture “Snow Flurry I,” from 1948, which consists of wire shaped into an organic design, like bird wings, with white circles of varying sizes at the end of each wire.
Snow transforms the ordinary into the exceptional and unexpected [Monet], and its natural beauty has been celebrated through the centuries across the globe in a variety of media [from Hiroshige to Calder].
Black and white aerial view of Piazza del Duomo, Milan, taken by Mario De Biasi in 1951, covered in snow with pathways cleared for people to walk, revealing a geometric pattern on the ground below. Andy Goldsworthy’s 1989 earthwork “Touching North,” four massive snow rings cut and built by the artist at the North Pole, a white on white environment.
In an urban setting, snow can be a catalyst for subtle abstractions revealed to us by the photographer’s keen eye [De Biasi], while the deft hands of environmental artists invite us to appreciate the transformative power of snow and ice in a natural setting [Goldsworthy].
Advertisement poster of the popular ski region of Flums, Switzerland, by graphic designer Carlo Vivarelli, depicting two male figures skiing sideways in front of a bright yellow circle on the upper right with the text “Flums Grossberg” at the top. Poster from 1896 advertising the Palais de Glace, Champs Elysees, by Jules Cheret, depicting a woman in a dress, wearing furs and a hat ice skating, with the silhouette of a man in a suit skating behind her. Painting by Hendrick Avercamp titled, “A Scene on the Ice” (1625), a warm depiction of dozens of people ice skating on a massive frozen lake with a few boats and buildings on the sides in the back towards the horizon line. “Winter, Fifth Avenue,” by Alfred Stieglitz showing the busy New York street in the midst of a snowstorm. Trails in the snow lead the eye up this vertical composition to a dark horse and carriage that is swallowed by the snowy atmosphere. The snow blurs the details of the urban surroundings, lending the photo an Impressionistic appearance.
Countering our instinctive resistance to extreme temperatures, humans have invented a myriad of entertainments to draw us away from the fireplace (or space heater) and out into the frozen wonderland [Vivarelli, Cheret, Avercamp].  Admittedly, we do not often find ourselves “dashing through the snow in that one-horse open sleigh,” nor do we effortlessly glide “over the river and through the woods” in the quaint fashion envisioned in popular tunes.  Quite the opposite, here in NYC, snow and frigid temperatures conspire to make our commuting a less than pleasant experience [Stieglitz]. Yet, there are times when one can't help but stand in silent admiration watching the flakes drift downward, joining together to trace the outline of each cobblestone, or forming tiny, fluffy caps atop every finial of a wrought iron gate, or gently camouflaging the tops of the black plastic garbage bags in a pristine, white frosting.  For this fleeting moment of enchantment, which only snow can conjure up, one may consider happily paying the price of a slushy commute!

To view these and many more images in the SVA Image Library, search keywords: snow, winter, ice, skating and skiing.

(TOP ROW - L TO R): Joseph Mallord William Turner, Snow Storm, or Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, 1842, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, Tate, London; Caspar David Friedrich, Sea of Ice, 1823–1824, Oil on canvas, 3 ft. 2 inches x 4ft. 2 inches, Hamburger Kunsthalle; Hiroshi Hamaya, Boys singing songs to drive evil birds away, Niigata, 1940, Gelatin silver print, Japan Photographers Society (Tokyo, Japan).
(SECOND ROW - L TO R): Claude Monet, Stack of Wheat, 1890-91, Oil on canvas, 25 15/16 x 36 3/8 inches, Art Institute of Chicago; Utagawa Hiroshige, Atagoshita and Yabu Lane, No. 112 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857, Woodblock print, 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 inches, Brooklyn Museum; Alexander Calder, Snow Flurry, I, 1948, Painted sheet steel and steel wire, 7 ft. 10 inches x 6 ft. 10 1/4 inches, MoMA.
(THIRD ROW - L TO R): Mario De Biasi, Milano, Piazza Duomo, 1951, Gelatin silver print, 16 x 12 1/8 inches, Private Collection; Andy Goldsworthy, Touching North, 1989, North Pole, Photograph of installation with ice and snow.
(FOURTH ROW - L TO R): Carlo Vivarelli, Poster for the ski resort Flums, 1940, Lithographic printing in three colours; Jules Cheret, Palais de Glace [Skating Rink], 1894, Poster;
Hendrick Avercamp, A Scene on the Ice, 1625, Oil on panel, 15.43 x 30.31 inches, National Gallery of Art (Washington, District of Columbia, USA); Alfred Stieglitz, Winter, Fifth Avenue, 1893, Photogravure from Camera Work, 8 5/8 x 6 1/16 inches, MoMA.