The Art of Arnold Böcklin, A Romantic Symbolist who was pretty much a Goth…

Looking at the art of Arnold Böcklin, we can see its roots on Romanticism taking symbolist shapes. Speaking of shapes, his artworks are very ‘geometrical’ too. My particular opinion about his art is that it has much greatness, but sometimes… it lacks it. I am quite fond of some of his works while opposite to others. 
Here you can see some of the works I enjoy. Arnold makes use of more polished anatomical aesthetics in these pieces as well as more attention to detail. Overall, the lighting, color and atmosphere of his works are have that ‘unnatural’ look, similar to a collage, which was right for what he wanted to accomplish.  The technique of most of his works aren’t much attractive for me, as I prefer a more realistic approach to any subject in general, but his motifs… Ah… The motifs…
This self-portrait (1872) is perhaps his best piece (in my opinion). What is he saying to us, the viewers? For me, the most intriguing detail on this particular piece is not the death playing the violin behind the artist, but his gaze. What is he looking at? What is he thinking? That gaze has strength. I’m very fond of the palette and lighting here.
And, I think his second best work may be The Lamentations of Mary Magdalene. The composition is astonishing. The comfort of the horizontal lines (dead Christ and the environment) contrasting with the tension of the diagonal (Mary and her veil). The contrast of the environment and skin tones with the black of the veil. I see the veil as death and mourn.
  
The Isle of Death, one of his most iconic works. There are other versions of the same painting, perhaps 5 in total. Hence the beautiful contrasting colors and how the isle is a big geometrical block. A faint sunlight tints the cold atmosphere.

 
  
The Plage: a flatter piece with a strange lighting and proportions, with lots of negative spaces – used to emphasize Death and the chimera.

 

The War: Another flat piece, where we distinguish the elements through their shapes and contrasts. War pretty much brings Death, Fear and Destruction, the characters in the painting.


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Lewis Carroll was the Mad Hatter – a Synchronicity insight

Yes, he was. 
Alice: “This is impossible!”
Hatter: “Only if you believe it is!”

I couple of days ago I was recapping on the Theory of Synchronicityof Carl Jung, (as my life seem to be clearly ruled by it) when I read the Wikipedia page article… In that article there was a photograph and quoting of Lewis Carroll. Immediately when I saw that image I had THE synapse. I just knew it! Carroll and the Mad Hatter are the same.

On Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter helps Alice to see things for herself, to question old concepts. He brings her enlightenment and curiosity at the same time the alluring character nurtures a fascination for the young girl. That’s what Carroll did on real life as well. 

He was fascinated, obsessed with youth, in particular for children and teen girls. He photographed them both dressed and nude. Now whether he was pedophile or not, that’s subject of study. (Though all indicates that he had a strange relation to his own sexuality.) Among the children he had close contact/friendship with (yeah, sounds weird for nowadays society standards, but that was during Victorian days…), one was the altar of his fascination, Alice Lidell. See the image to the left.

Way before I read and researched more about the close friendship between Alice and Lewis, I had seen her on a selection of his photographs. The expressions and mannerisms he captured immediately talked to me that ‘this is Alice from the book.’ Fact which I later verified. 

To the right (black & white) the image which gave origin to this insight… I just added the hat, of course 😉

Vincent Van Gogh: Self-portraits… Or self-obsession?

Most people with basic knowledge of art have heard of Vincent, the (in)famous Dutch impressionist – who chopped off his own ear. His most popular works are remembered for their strong, dynamic palettes and juxtaposed strokes. I have been ‘impressed’ by his paintings since I was a kid. Specially his self-portraits…
Whenever I’d look at Vincent’s paintings I would associate them to nightmare. For me they were nightmarish manifestations of his very soul. I’d felt enthralled whenever I stared at his portraits…
That’s because he looks like a different man, in each one of them. You have similarities (character), which is easy to recognize on them all – but with slight characteristic changes on his facial/anatomical features in general.
I see a somber, troubled  man in each of his portraits. In some of them I see these also a hint of anger, contentment, longing, wondering, pure sadness or a hint hope that seem too far away to be ever reached. In a few portraits, the strokes not only make his countenance deformed, but slightly monstrous…
Here’s a selection of Vincent’s self-portraits. See for yourself.


See more of his self-portraits @ Wikipedia. 

Visit also Van Gogh Gallery: www.vangoghgallery.com

Metropolis: ein film von Friz Lang

I can remember with gusto of the day I watched this timeless classic on a German movie festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was on my early-mid-teens and learning German at that time. The special thing about this session is that there was a pianist playing during the whole movie!!! I felt as I was in 1927…  

Metropolis has some of the best photography in the History of Cinema, in my opinion. I can see scenes that could have been composed by classical painters such as Rembrandt himself. Some are simple, but absolutely eloquent, while others are masterpieces of complexity.
When it comes to concepts, I can compare many of Metropolis’ takes to mythological passages related to the Bible, but in a universal context rather than religious. I can see creational and doomsday allusions and philosophical questioning, the best and the worse of mankind side by side.
Another thing I find really impressive, given the film’s zeitgeist, is that the screenplay is credited to have been written by Lang’s wife, Thea von Harbou. She had the ideas for a story that is seemingly ahead of their time, while there was so little support and respect for the intellectual authority of a woman back then. Lang on the other hand was also a visionary, by directing his wife’s visions as if his owns. They were married not only as man and woman, but also creative- and artistically speaking.

~ That was the time when cinema was art. ~

Learn more about this film @ Wikipedia.