Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Caspar David Friedrich and the Interior Dictation of Landscape

.

The Riesengebirge (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

.

He avoided Goethe's invitations to come to Weimar and work together on a collaboration
He was too busy collaborating with certain beings
inside him
whose commands he found so much more compelling
they came alive
during his solitary strolls into the countryside at dawn or just after moonrise
his favorite time
during which he often paused to sketch
a group of trees a cloud a boulder a row of dunes or a tuft of grass
at their urging
Every true work of art (he wrote) is conceived in a sacred hour
and born
from an inner impulse of the heart

As he grew older depression distanced him more
and more
from the world of men
I have to be
on my own
and I have to know I am on my own
so that I can give myself up to what is around me
he wrote
in declining an invitation to tour the Alps
with a Russian poet
who admired his paintings
I have to unite with my clouds and rocks
I have to unite with everything around me
in order to be what I am

When the mineral world dissolves into the cosmic flux
the animal and vegetable worlds will have been long gone
but the beings who existed inside Friedrich and dictated his landscapes
will still be carving vast silences out of elemental gulfs

He had a special interest in the moon
He used to say
that if after death men were transported to another place
then he would prefer one less terrestrial than lunar
in order to allow the beings inside him to feel at home



Moonrise on an empty shore (National Gallery, Washington D.C.)

4 comments:

misharialadwani said...

There's something about this painting that's always delighted me:

http://www.antikrize.eu/Lists/Nuotraukos/lgsa145+the-wanderer-caspar-david-friedrich-art-print.jpg

I mean, I know it's almost absurdly romantic, with its Man Surveying An Occulted World of Mystery theme, but still...

misharialadwani said...

Hmmm..that's odd. I've no idea why the link doesn't work. Works fine if you copy and paste it into the browser (though I'm sure you're tolerably familiar with he painting. Who isn't?)

tom clark said...

Mish,

That link wouldn't come up for me, but "The Wanderer Above the Mists" can be found in many places. Here's a nice reproduction that can be clicked on for enlargement:

http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/rom_fri_wand.html

tom clark said...

Mish,

Fun, this. Now we have both links coming up. The second one (British Columbia) gives you a good deal more of the reds in among the blues of the mists.