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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin (1827 - 1901), a Swiss symbolist painter who lived in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy; being a symbolist, no wonder that his art expressed a longing for transfiguration anywhere, out of the world (to put it mildly). Persons as different each other as Rachmaninoff and Hitler were fond of Böcklin's art, Marcel Duchamp named Böcklin as having a major influence on him (nevertheless it's debatable whether Duchamp was serious or not, at least in saying that, if not in general). As for the influence of Böcklin over Surrealist artists like Ernst, Dalí, and Chirico, that's indisputable.

And now enjoy some of Böcklin works (and if you do not, don't shoot the pianist).

I think this painting makes obvious the influence exercised by Böcklin over Chirico.

There are several versions of The Isle of the Dead: one is at Kunstmuseum Basel, another at New York Metropolitan, and another at Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig; there is also a lost version; it may have disappeared or been destroyed during the World Wars. (http://www.arnoldbocklin.com/ab_isleofthedead.htm). It is probably the best known work of Böcklin, and inspired both Rachmaninoff and Reger in their work. I will come later to this.

Says Mary Kunz Goldman, St. Anthony's sermon to the fishes was another miracle he performed. The fish raised their heads out of the water and listened to him. Here is a picture I found that I love. That look on the face of the fish!

Die Heimkehr (The Homecoming) is the painting that inspired Rachmaninoff in composing his Prelude in B minor Op. 32 No. 10. Try listen to it why looking at the painting. It's a trance experience that helps you enter the universe of the visual, the universe of sound.

(Old Masters)

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