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.
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
Vija Celmins, Untitled (Big Sea #1) (1969)
Brice Marden, The Attended (1996–99)
Jennifer Guidi, Energy of Love (Painted Universe Mandala SF #4F, Red, Natural Ground) (2018)
Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (1836)
Sam Gilliam, Ray VI (1970)
Alma Thomas, A Fantastic Sunset (1970)
Claude Monet, The Palazzo Contarini (1908)
Sean Scully, The Fall (1983)
Mary Cassatt’s Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap) (ca. 1899)
Jan Vermeer, View of Houses in Delft (c. 1658)
Green Tara (13th century)
Loïs Mailou Jones, Jennie (1943)
Milarepa, Central Tibet, 15th-16th century
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