Why Caspar David Friedrich’s Portray Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) Is a Romantic Masterpiece, Evoking the Energy of the Chic


When Cas­par David Friedrich com­plet­ed Der Wan­der­er über dem Nebelmeer, or Wan­der­er Above the Sea of Fog, in 1818, it “was once no longer neatly gained.” So says gal­lerist-Youtu­ber James Payne in his new Nice Artwork Defined video above, which focal point­es on Friedrich’s most famed paint­ing. Within the artist’s existence­time, the Wan­der­er in reality “marked the grad­ual decline of Friedrich’s for­tunes.” He with­drew from soci­ety, and in 1835, “he suf­fered a stroke that left the left facet of his frame effec­tive­ly par­a­lyzed, effec­tive­ly finish­ing his profession.” How, over the cen­turies since, did this once-ill-fat­ed paint­ing transform so icon­ic that many people now see it ref­er­enced each few weeks?

Friedrich had recognized pop­u­lar and crit­i­cal scorn earlier than. His first primary com­mis­sion, paint­ed in 1808, was once “an altar­piece which presentations a pass in professional­report on the most sensible of a moun­tain, on my own and sur­spherical­ed by means of pine bushes. Laborious for us to below­stand now, but it surely brought about an enormous scan­dal.” This owed partly to the loss of tra­di­tion­al in keeping with­spec­tive in its com­po­si­tion, which pre­saged the texture­ing of certain­much less­ness — over­laid with “rolling mists and fogs” — that might char­ac­ter­ize his lat­er paintings. However extra to the purpose, “land­scape had nev­er been con­sid­ered a go well with­ready style for overt­ly reli­gious topics. And naturally, nor­mal­ly the cru­ci­repair­ion is proven as a human nar­ra­tive pop­u­lat­ed by means of human fig­ures, no longer Christ demise on my own.”

It’s honest to mention that Friedrich didn’t do issues nor­mal­ly, each philo­soph­i­cal­ly — smash­ing away, along with his fel­low Roman­ti­cists, from the mech­a­nis­tic Enlight­en­ment con­sen­sus in regards to the global — and aes­thet­i­cal­ly. The Wan­der­er (fur­ther ana­lyzed within the Nerd­author video slightly under) gifts a Weltan­schau­ung wherein “land­scape was once a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a divine global order, and guy was once an indi­vid­ual who watch­es, con­tem­plates, and feels a lot more than he cal­cu­lates and thinks.” To succeed in his desired impact, Friedrich assem­bles an imag­ined vista out of var­i­ous ele­ments observed round Dres­den, pre­despatched­ing it in a person­ner that com­bines char­ac­ter­is­tics of each land­scapes and por­characteristics to “cre­ate a pow­er­ful sense of house” whilst direct­ing our atten­tion to the lone uniden­ti­fied fig­ure proper within the cen­ter.

The “curi­ous com­bi­na­tion of lone­li­ness and empow­er­ment” that effects is vital to below­stand­ing no longer simply the pri­or­i­ties of the Roman­tics, however the very nature of the aes­thet­ic sub­lime they rev­er­ent­ly expressed. To be sub­lime is not only to be beau­ti­ful or plea­sur­ready, but in addition to exude a type of intim­i­dat­ing, even worry­some huge­ness; the way it feels to go into the pres­ence of the sub­lime can nev­er be ful­ly repli­cat­ed, let on my own defined, however as Friedrich demon­strates, it may well effec­tive­ly be evoked. Therefore, as Payne issues out, the 10­den­cy of cur­hire media like film posters to crib from the Wan­der­er, in ser­vice of the likes of Dunkirk, Obliv­ion, Into Darkish­ness, and After Earth. Deter­min­ing whether or not the ones %­tures reside as much as the ambi­tions evi­dent in Friedrich’s artis­tic lega­cy is an exer­cise left to the learn­er.

Relat­ed con­tent:

An Intro­duc­tion to the Paint­ing of Cas­par David Friedrich, Roman­ti­cism & the Sub­lime

The Oth­er­global­ly Artwork of William Blake: An Intro­duc­tion to the Imaginative and prescient­ary Poet and Painter

How the Avant-Garde Artwork of Gus­tav Klimt Were given According to­verse­ly Appro­pri­at­ed by means of the Nazis

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Song and Artwork As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Nice Artwork Defined: Watch 15 Minute Intro­duc­tions to Nice Works by means of Warhol, Rothko, Kahlo, Picas­so & Extra

Based totally in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and wide­casts on towns, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His tasks come with the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Towns, the ebook The State­much less Town: a Stroll via Twenty first-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video sequence The Town in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­ebook.



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