Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial,
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ID number ART25701
Title Ballet of wind and rain
Collection Art
Object type Painting
Artist Colahan, Colin
Places made
  • Belgium;
  • Netherlands;
Date made 1945
Medium oil on canvas
Measurement unframed: 50.8 x 60.9 cm; framed: 71 x 81 cm
On display Main building: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2


'Ballet of wind and rain' was painted in Holland late in the war, in February 1945, when Colahan travelled into recently liberated regions of war-torn Europe. In this painting the artist has captured a group of four airmen, moving across an airfield, during a fleeting moment. In his discussion of the painting Garry Kinnane has aptly observed that the 'feeling of space and the elements - the wind, rain and light playing on the bodies of the airmen, who are positioned like a chorus line - make a lyrical and memorable arabesque out of an otherwise mundane event'. The unusual title of the work refers both to the choreography of the figures and the theatricality of the composition. The idea that a 'ballet' was created through the colour, movement and atmospheric effects of the scene as it presented itself to the eye, recalled the use of musical terms such as 'symphony', 'arrangement' and 'harmony' in the titles of a number of paintings by Whistler. Clearly Colahan was more interested in capturing the human drama posed by this wartime subject, than in painting major military events.