Events | Caspar David Friedrich: Alienation & Isolation

Caspar David Friedrich – Alienation & Isolation

  • Location: Parmoor House, 13, Lyppiat Terrace, Lyppiat Road, Cheltenham GL50 2SX
  • Date: 13.10.17 | 7:30pm
  • Book Now: Contact Greg Arnold of the Cheltenham German Society:

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) fundamentally believed that ‘the artist’s feeling is his law’ and thus emotion, imagination, irrationality and man’s relationship to nature all prevail in his inimitable oeuvre. His endeavour to depict the sublime (awe-inspired terror before nature) led to a numinosity synonymous with his bleak yet beautiful winter landscapes.

Alongside his compatriot Philipp Otto Runge, Friedrich was the virtual creator of German Romanticism – a period when artists began to express their subjective, emotional response to the world; hence Fridrich’s statement ‘The artist should not only paint what he sees before him but also what he sees within him’. This epithet of Romanticism chimed with contemporary moral philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Goethean science and Rosicrucianism. Enlightenment Philosophy was an important influence on Romanticism; artists were inspired by the new ideas of natural liberty and freedom. It can also be seen as a reaction against reason, in favour of the irrational. The Romantic exploration of man’s relationship to the universe and to God was prompted by scientific as well as philosophical developments.

Friedrich came into contact with Catholic Revival Theorists who were interested in symbolism. Catholicism embodied a renewed interest in inner spirituality. He developed landscape painting, regarding landscape as a vehicle for spiritual and emotional content. It could convey and parallel human emotion and profound passion. Friedrich resigned himself to nature in a melancholic manner. This all-pervasive melancholy runs through his work and mirrors, to a degree, his personal life: one of alienation, aloneness and disorientation.

The twin themes of decay and ruin are often utilised by Friedrich. Most of his works are concerned with the transient, mortality, and the temporal. He believed strongly, that the artist should be led by emotion not intellect, and that Art should be completely and utterly the language of feeling, or state of mind. Indeed, even of our devotion and our prayers.

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