Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Caspar David Friedrich

Graveyard Under Snow. 1826. Caspar Friedrich is a very interesting painter to me in that I always describe him to people as "Tim Burtonesque". In reality, Tim Burton would have been more "Friedrichesque", but I think the comparison is illustrative. I am familiar with some work by CDF, but this piece is one that I came across today for the first time. Something grabbed my attention, so I spend some time looking at it to try to figure out why. I have touched on this topic before and I image that I will see characteristics repeated in many paintings, but I believe that the idea of narrative is what is attractive to me in this piece. We see what appears to be a graveyard marked by the stone wall in the background and the freshly dug grave. Two shovels are in the grave and the psyche begins to want details to fill in the blanks. Questions are asked, where is this graveyard. Who is being buried here. Where are the two people that were using the shovels. Is this a fresh grave or once frozen over from a time when the ground was able to be broken. It seems to me that the power of this piece is not what is pictured here, but what is actually absent. Like a monster movie where the creature is scarier when it is unseen and unknown, mystery can also be generated by the unseen. I may have to ask myself when next at my easel, "What shouldn't I paint today."

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