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Chuck Trees

Christmastime is here again! We have another holiday-themed post for you, dear readers. In the past, we’ve touched on holiday decorations (and their inherent kitschiness), and on the various types of nativity scenes you can surround yourself with to emphasize the reason for the season. This year, we’re focusing on the concept of the Christmas tree.

The history of the Christmas Tree is complex. Here is a concise excerpt from Encyclopædia Britannica:

“The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the Devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime. It survived further in the custom, also observed in Germany, of placing a Yule tree at an entrance or inside the house during the midwinter holidays.”

Christmas tree-related art — actual art — can be hard to find. While the symbols and ideas associated with the trees are dynamic in our society, holiday-related art is difficult to justify as anything more than seasonal decoration. We’re in luck, however, because artists don’t much care about societal norms and continue to make beautiful and sometimes biting Christmas tree (and Christmas- and tree-adjacent) works. Here are some of them.

 

Francesca Fuchs, Xmas Tree 2, 2014, acrylic on canvas

A painting by Houston artist Francesca Fuchs

 

Shirazeh Houshiary’s upside-down Christmas tree suspended from Tate Britain’s ceiling

 

Michael Johansson's Seasons Greetings

Michael Johansson’s Seasons Greetings

 

Lake|Flato Architects' Christmas Tree at the Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio

Lake|Flato Architects’ Christmas tree at the Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio

 

Robert Smithson's Dead Tree

Robert Smithson’s Dead Tree

 

Paul McCarthy's installation and performance Tokyo Santa

Paul McCarthy’s installation and performance Tokyo Santa

 

Debbie Reichard's sculpture Suspended Belief

Debbie Reichard’s sculpture Suspended Belief

 

Roman Signer's installation Zimmer mit Weihnachtsbaum (Room with Christmas Tree)

Roman Signer’s installation Zimmer mit Weihnachtsbaum (Room with Christmas Tree)

 

One of Brian Keith Jones' Crappity Elves

One of Dallas artist Brian Keith Jones’ Crappity Elves

 

A piece by Houston artist Paul Horn

A piece by Houston artist Paul Horn

 

Matt Keegan's Christmas and July

Matt Keegan’s Christmas and July

 

Jonathon Keats' drawings created by swaying Leland cypress trees

Jonathon Keats’ drawings created by swaying Leland cypress trees

 

A sculpture by Robin Ragin

A sculpture by Robin Ragin

 

Michael Johansson's Christmas Tree Bought Separately

Michael Johansson’s Christmas Tree Bought Separately

 

A piece by John Baldessari

A piece by John Baldessari

 

Double-sided ornament by Phillip Kremer

Double-sided ornament by Houston artist Phillip Kremer

 

A work by Alex Da Corte

Alex Da Corte’s sculpture Loved Despite of Great Faults

 

A photograph by Jesse Rieser

A photograph by Jesse Rieser

 

Tree-inspired sculptures by Bill Willis

Tree-inspired sculptures by Houston artist Bill Willis

 

An early 1900s card showing Krampus spiriting children away

 

Ceramic ornaments by Henri Gadbois on a tree at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art in Houston

Ceramic ornaments by Henri Gadbois on a tree at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art in Houston

 

Ceramic ornaments by Henri Gadbois on a tree at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art in Houston

(Detail) Ceramic ornaments by Henri Gadbois on a tree at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art in Houston

 

The McNay's Christmas Tree

The McNay’s Christmas Tree

 

Chuck Ramirez's Christmas Trees on view in Chuck Ramirez: All This and Heaven Too at the McNay in San Antonio

Chuck Ramirez’s Christmas Trees on view in Chuck Ramirez: All This and Heaven Too at the McNay in San Antonio

 

Paul McCarthy's "Christmas Tree"

Paul McCarthy’s “Christmas Tree”

 

A popcorn garland by Paul Kittelson

A popcorn garland by Houston artist Paul Kittelson

 

Ornaments by Elaine Bradford

Ornaments by Houston artist Elaine Bradford

 

A drawing by Paul Middendorf

A drawing by Houston artist Paul Middendorf

 

A Christmas card circa 1917 via the National Library of Norway

A Christmas card circa 1917 via the National Library of Norway

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