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Sunday, 20 June 2010



File:Kirchner - Berggipfel.jpg

A wall of rocks so brightly reflecting

That their face, tilted to the West, receiving
The sun of afternoon in phases of altering
Colour so deep it went into the roots of hue,
Cooled only slowly toward blue evening.

File:Kirchner - Der Berg.jpg


Transparent colours are limitless whether illuminated or in darkness, in the same way that fire and air can be understood as their highpoint and lowpoint... The relationship between light and transparent colour is infinitely fascinating if one hazards an attempt to deepen it, and when colours catch fire, and mix, and reappear, and disappear, it is like breathing within the great spans of time between eternity and eternity, from the most exalted light to the eternal, solitary calm of the lowest gradations.

-- Goethe, Theory of Colours, 1810

In short: pure colour is the instrument of fantasy, the land of dreams for a child lost in games.

-- Walter Benjamin, Poring over Children's Books, 1926


Paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)

Mountaintop, n.d.
The Mountain, n.d




Thanks for this -- wow, does he paint mountains! And thanks too, and yet again, for these thoughts about color ("limitless," "illuminated or in darkness," "transparent," "fascinating," "catch[ing] fire," "mix[ing}," "reappear[ing']," "disappear[ing]" . . . .


grey light coming into sky above blackness
of ridge, silver of planet above branches
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

light of painting from which
material, in this sense

foreshortened form collapsed,
framing part, “support”

clouds in blue sky reflected in channel
pelican flapping to the right across it

Marcia said...

Thank you, Tom, for bringing Kirchner's art to light and for the corresponding words on art and color. I especially love the deeply magnificent colors of "Sertigweg" in the "Thrall" posting.

TC said...


Thank you Steve for blue sky and silver of planet and

light of painting from which

all colours proceed.


And thank you. About the painting(s) on Thrall, you echo my sentiments.

I love the way we can -- in fact must -- move in and through and on and over this work with "feel".

To each her/his own feeling response in the moment, and also later. The work stays open to us in that way.

Everything about it seems risky (astonishing collisions of colour, curious distortions of figure & c.) yet bold and sure.

Marcia said...

Tom, when I read your three statements about Kirchner's art, I immediately applied them to poetry:

- moving through and on and over with "feel" (emotion endures)

- the openness and the viewer's/reader's response to the moment

- risky, yet bold and sure

Just brilliant, like the colors. Thanks again.

Curtis Roberts said...

I love Canyon, the painting, the related texts (all of which are now part of Canyon), but especially each of the comments (Steve's, Marcia's, Tom's) and Steve's poem. After a morning of deadening work, I feel quite alive again.

aditya said...


How does chiaroscuro relate to the colors?

has stuck with me from a previous post.

When I think of a bell I become a bell.

Your pulse about rhyming leaves a smile carefully arranged on my face like the rhyme itself in the poem.

TC said...

About chiaroscuro, well... the subject of light and shade is inexhaustible.

Following the remarks about transparent colour which I quote in the post, Goethe proceeds:

"Opaque colours, on the other hand, are like flowers that do not reach for the sky and which, in any case, have more in common with weakness, with white, on the one hand, and with evil, with black, on the other. These latter, however, are quite capable of producing variations so sprightly and effects so natural that... the former, that is transparent colours, in the end one comes to enjoy as spirits and are useful only to elevate the others".

Robb said...

Blue evening is the best evening of all evenings

TC said...

Yes definitely, with yours. But with mine... maybe depends on which street.

Anonymous said...

Colour is magic.

TC said...

Es verdad, Lucy.