In Caspar David Friedrich’s most famous painting, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), the German Romantic artist depicts a young, aristocratic-looking man in a green overcoat as he stands atop a jagged rock, taking in a misty, high-altitude scene of mountains and cliffs. The image shows a moment of ultimate self-reflection in the vein of Immanuel Kant—a privileged man working out his interior feelings through exterior Romantic symbolism. The fog parts for him, but only just so, revealing not verdant hills and lush forests but dense mountainsides and jagged rocks. The man is at once a master of the universe and entirely subservient to it: even from high above, he can only see a challenging sliver of what he might otherwise think he controls. Read More
On the work of Gabriele Münter.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, some twenty-five miles north of Copenhagen on the shore of the Øresund, has a sense of porousness—glass and light everywhere, so many doors between the museum and the sculpture park that inside and outside lose their distinction. There are exhibitions on the Los Angeles–based artist Ed Ruscha and on Pablo Picasso’s surprisingly prolific work with ceramics, but the reason I’ve come is to see a two-floor exhibition on the life and career of Gabriele Münter.
The exhibition, devoted wholly to the sixty-year career of the underknown Berlin-born German Expressionist, includes around a hundred thirty of her works. But before you’re able to focus on her aesthetic breakthroughs—on the way in which she positioned and profiled and photographed women, on her František Kupka–level jumps in artistic style—social conditioning dictates that you look first at the shadow of her long-term lover, the better-known Wassily Kandinsky. History, of course, tends to take for granted that women have been influenced by the men in their lives while the very same men aren’t seen as having been influenced by these women. Viewing art has tended toward the same effect: lonely men are “lone geniuses” while lonely women, those who devote themselves to their art at the expense of love or family, are “art monsters.” Read More
In our new monthly column, The Big Picture, Cody Delistraty will travel across Europe—from Copenhagen to Dublin to Berlin to London—searching out essential artworks and exhibitions that speak to a wider cultural context, such as our desire for wanderlust or the complexities of artistic romances. In this first segment, he explores the complex burden placed upon the lovers, close friends, and heirs of famous artists after they die.
During a recent retrospective of Cy Twombly, Nicola del Roscio walked through the Centre Pompidou, in Paris, looking at “Coronation of Sesostris” (2000), a ten-panel series that depicts the ancient Egyptian myth of the sun’s movement from morning to night. The series is a mélange of disparate marks, Expressionist painting, and poetic quotes that begins with frenzied childlike scratch marks before ending on a somber, more formalist tableau that suggests a reflection on death. Del Roscio wore a green sweater with a dark, many-buttoned petticoat, and his hands were pushed deep into his pockets. He was quiet as he regarded the birth-to-death work of the man he’s spent his entire adult life assisting and advising, and—after the artist died in 2011 and del Roscio became the president of the Cy Twombly Foundation—celebrating and protecting.
Del Roscio has small bags under his eyes, but his smile is genuine and his charm and vulnerability are that of someone much younger than his seventy-three years. “There’s something magic about Nicola,” said David Baum, the Cy Twombly Foundation’s secretary. “You want to pick him up and put him in your pocket.” And yet, charming as he is, del Roscio is a keeper of secrets. Twombly was a cipher even to close friends, but to del Roscio he was a confidant and an intimate. Read More