Thursday, 8 August 2013

Romanticism in Germany

'STURM UND DRANG' means 'storm and drive'. This refers to a Proto-Romantic movement in Germany where the cult of reason in the age of the enlightenment had long left Germany wanting to express themselves. (c. 1780 - 1800).

The 'cult of reason' meant that superstition was replaced by science in Germany (and the rest of Europe, too...but they just weren't as emotional). Objectivity was key in the world that was looking outwards in every aspect of life to gather an understanding of the world; No one was looking in towards themselves. German Romanticism was far creepier than English.

Caspar David Friedrich
Friedrich was so consumed by the whole movement that he essentially became insane and died in poverty.

  • Monk By the Sea 1809
Portrays the sublime in nature. The monk is contemplating nature. Derives from German religion - pantheism - where the individual has a direct relationship with God as he and God are one. No need for interference from the whole body of the church.

'the artist should paint not only what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him'

  • Abbey in the Oakwood 1809-10
This painting was one half of a pair with the above. The general belief is that this is the funeral of the monk shown in the painting before. The derelict wall of an old Gothic church is probably a celebration of the natural culture... Gothic is fair more akin to the culture than classicism was (that was dominated by Italy!) Some people have even commented how the Gothic abbey rises from the ground like the trees around it, an allusion to being 'home grown' maybe.

  • Two Men Contemplating the Moon, 1819
Subject is contemplation again, and not the actual figures. If you've noticed, Friedrich never paints the front of people either, to help the focus stay on the idea of the painting - always contemplation - instead of looking at the face.

  • Woman in the Morning Sun 1818-20
You don't see her face, but her awe and acceptance to nature and god in her gesture.

  • The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog 1818
This encompasses the technique "Capriccio" where an artist produces a metaphor of a landscape, or simply a made up one. It is the wanderer searching for the metaphysical soul.
  • Old Heroes' Graves 1812
These are graves of famous Germans with Napoleonic soldiers lost in the landscape. Its an allusion to the Napoleonic army always being inferior to Germany - so much so they are 'lost' among their war generals.
Oddly though, the graves are classical, as is the obelisk, something that is rare in Germany (and not a reference to national pride).

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