Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stimmung

Jakub Schikaneder was a Czech artist known for creating an atmosphere of melancholy. In his paintings a figure is often seen walking alone in winter in the old section of Prague. In the painting, edges are softened and surfaces are understated. The dusk light seems to be fading, suggesting the transience of human life.



Many artists in Europe used the word "Stimmung" to describe this poetic quality in a painting. "Stimmung" is a German word that means "mood" or "tuning." It's a noun form of "stimmen," which means to tune one's voice, but it refers not only the outward voice, but the inward voice of the soul. As such it has deep musical and poetic associations beyond the visual arts alone.


(Above: Frantisek Kupka, "The Way of Silence")
In the book Prague 1900, Petr Wittlich writes that Stimmung "refers not only to the particular emotional content of these paintings, but also to a certain philosophical undertone." Stimmung was seen as a special personal quality "preferable to normal sensory impressions: it was that additional element that inscribes miraculous signs of the world on the soul and is accompanied by feelings of exaltation and passion."

Previously on GJ
Dusseldorf school
Wikipedia on Schikaneder
Wikipedia on Kupka 
Wikipedia on Stimmung

6 comments:

mon said...

VERY nice explanation of "Stimmung" in all its mutations. Very very nice.
(Native speaker here)

Deborah Secor said...

I just wanted to mention how beautifully the Milky Way is presented in the second painting. You don't see that painted very often in a natural setting like this. Wonderful!

karlsimon said...

Nice post! I had never heard of these guys before.

Marsha. Rhodes Gilliam said...

Dear James, I have followed ARC for many years and I must tell you how happy I was the other day when I discovered that they have recognized you as the "Modern Master" that you are! They are a prestigious organization in my estimation, and one that does not accept mediocrity. Congratulations to you for this addition to your already outstanding list of accomplishments!
All the best,
Marsha Rhodes Gilliam

Luca Bonatti said...

I noticed the milky way too, that painting evokes uncomfortable feelings. Egyptian monuments out of their context, the galaxy above, that figure wandering... I really like it.

Tomas Honz said...

Great! Shikaneder is one of my favorite czech painters! I'm very glad you pointed him out.