Here Are 14 Calming Works From Art History to Help You Relax Despite Everything Giving You Anxiety Right Now

From a rendition of the Buddha to colorful abstractions to domestic scenes, these works may help take the edge off.

Installation view of
Installation view of "Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh and More" at Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. October 18, 2016. Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images.

Whichever side of the aisle you find yourself on this Election Day, you may well be feeling like American democracy hangs in the balance. Millions are marching in the streets, wildfires are burning throughout the American West, and we’ve had so many hurricanes, we’ve started naming them for Greek letters. It’s a bit stressful. So, what can we do if we’ve exercised, had a drink, seen our therapist, and still find ourselves anxious? We have a thought: let’s look at some soothing artworks together.

For starters: You know who is known for calmness? The Buddha, who meditated so hard that he freed himself from all craving and aversion, the twin drives that, he believed, make us so miserable. So, try meditating on this rendition of the Buddha from San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum for a few minutes, and then have a look at a few more artworks that will mellow you a bit. Whether abstract artworks, views of the night sky or the ocean, sweeping landscapes, or views of quiet, homey scenes, we hope they lower your blood pressure.

 

Seated Buddha Amitabha

Seated Buddha Amitabha (Amida), 1150-1185. Japan, Heian period (794-1185). Wood with lacquer and gold. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S10+. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Seated Buddha Amitabha (Amida), 1150-1185. Japan, Heian period (794-1185). Wood with lacquer and gold. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S10+. Photo © Asian Art Museum.

 

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Big Sea #1) (1969)

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Big Sea #1) (1969). Private collection © Vija Celmins, courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo © McKee Gallery, New York.

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Big Sea #1) (1969). Private collection © Vija Celmins, courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo © McKee Gallery, New York.

 

Brice Marden, The Attended (1996–99)

Brice Marden, The Attended (1996–99). Courtesy of Sotheby’s New York.

 

Jennifer Guidi, Energy of Love (Painted Universe Mandala SF #4F, Red, Natural Ground) (2018)

Jennifer Guidi, Energy of Love (Painted Universe Mandala SF #4F, Red, Natural Ground) (2018). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Jennifer Guidi, Energy of Love (Painted Universe Mandala SF #4F, Red, Natural Ground) (2018). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

 

Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (1836)

Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (1836). Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Sam Gilliam, Ray VI (1970)

Sam Gilliam, Ray VI (1970). Gerald Peters Gallery.

Sam Gilliam, Ray VI (1970). Gerald Peters Gallery.

 

Alma Thomas, A Fantastic Sunset (1970)

Alma Thomas, A Fantastic Sunset (DATE). Image courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

Alma Thomas, A Fantastic Sunset (1970). Image courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

 

Claude Monet, The Palazzo Contarini (1908)

Claude Monet, The Palazzo Contarini (1908). Courtesy of Museum Barberini.

Claude Monet, The Palazzo Contarini (1908). Courtesy of Museum Barberini.

 

Sean Scully, The Fall (1983)

Sean Scully, The Fall (1983), detail. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ©Sean Scully.

Sean Scully, The Fall (1983), detail. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ©Sean Scully.

 

Mary Cassatt’s Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap) (ca. 1899)

Mary Cassatt's Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap) (ca. 1899). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mary Cassatt’s Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap) (ca. 1899). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Jan Vermeer, View of Houses in Delft (c. 1658)

Jan Vermeer, View of houses in Delft, c. 1658, Rijksmuseum. Gift of H.W.A. Deterding, London.

Jan Vermeer, View of Houses in Delft, c. 1658, Rijksmuseum.

 

Green Tara (13th century)

Green Tara (13th Century). Courtesy of the Rubin Museum

Green Tara (13th century). Courtesy of the Rubin Museum.

 

Loïs Mailou Jones, Jennie (1943)

Loïs Mailou Jones, Jennie (1943). Courtesy of Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust.

Loïs Mailou Jones, Jennie (1943). Courtesy of Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust.

 

Milarepa, Central Tibet, 15th-16th century

Milarepa Central Tibet, 15th-16th century Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art

Milarepa, Central Tibet, 15th-16th century. Courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art.

 


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share