Sunday, 4 February 2007

My New Crush

His name is Caspar David Friedrich.

In a lecture on Ann Radcliffe's The Italian last week, we looked at some art work which demonstrates the sublime. I liked it all, but Friedrich's paintings are just... well, sublime is the word.

This one's called A Monastery Graveyard in the Snow, 1819. It comprises so many of my favourite things: trees, graveyards, snow, ruins and ecclesiastical architecture. It makes my soul happy. Friedrich has a bit of a thing about snow, looking at some of his other paintings, and so do I. I love the way snow sits on things, like a bright white shadow, a shadow in reverse. And how clean it looks. And how it makes anywhere look uninhabited. The graves and trees themselves look like an extension of the ruin. Or like a Gothic church of a different sort, built by nature over time, with the gnarled trees as imposing as any gargoyles. It gives a very specific presentation of God, if God is represented by the Church. The deadness. God is dead? The Church is dead? I don't know. I'm no good at reading stuff into paintings. I just like the wonderful tingly feeling they give me, and I like pretending I'm inside them, just like when the jump into the pictures in Mary Poppins.

This is called The Polar Sea, 1823. I love this one because it's so beautiful and terrible at the same time. A lot of his work is, in fact. But there's such a cruelty in this one, with the jagged edges, and the destruction, and you can almost feel how cold it is. Sunshine is normally portrayed as such a happy, smiley sort of thing, but this light is cold and clear and sharp and sort of brutal.

This is Two Men Looking at the Moon, 1819. Winter trees again. I don't know why they have such an effect on me, but I shall be quite sad when spring comes around this year. Those two men, though - they achieve the rare thing of being alone and together at the same time. I think when you can enjoy solitude with somebody else, that's something really special. And here's the moon, another one of my favourite things. Because of the 28-day cycle, I've always associated it with fertility and womanhood, and all the things I love about being a woman. The moon here looks a bit like a sun, and it looks like they're looking at it with hope. Which is such a rare way to present the moon, as it's normally associated with the dead of night and thus often it can be a bit morbid. And incidentally, I want a cloak like that, but longer.

This concludes our tour of Laura's Imaginary Art Gallery. Enjoy the rest of your stay here in her head, and don't drink the water.

1 comment:

G said...

These are interesting and haunting. I like the last one the best, I think; your commentary is wonderful.