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Osiągalne – nieosiągalne. O pejzażach z motywem krzyża w twórczości Caspara Davida Friedricha

Bałus, Wojciech

English Title: The attainable versus the unattainable. On the symbolical topography of the paintings with the motif of the cross in Caspar David Friedrich’s painting

In: Kitowska-Łysiak, Małgorzata ; Wolicka, Elżbieta (Hrsgg.): Miejsce rzeczywiste – miejsce wyobrażone. Studia nad kategorią miejsca. Lublin 1999, pp. 107-128

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Translation of abstract (English)

Landscapes with the motif of the cross, resp. the crucifix, played an important role in Caspar David Friedrich’s painting. The artist always placed crosses in important points of his compositions, e.g. on the border between light and shade, at a spring, on a shore, at the gate of a ruined church. Such a cross is always attainable for a wanderer approaching it within the space of the painting. The churches vaguely visible on the horizon, or the lofty mountain peaks, are not attainable for him. In this dialectic between the attainable and the unattainable is the manifestation of the Lutheran "theologia crucis": God in His essence is unknowable. Even if He is symbolized by Gothic churches or mountain peaks, they are either beyond any routes or bear a phenomenal, unreal character. God is a hidden God. An attempt to get to know Him otherwise than through symbols, that is, only vaguely, is to be treated as a sign of conceit and pride. The cross, however, is the beginning and the end of human wandering. Therefore one can understand why the "Cross in the Mountains" (1808), perhaps the most famous of the artist’s works, could have become a devotional painting. The crucifix rising on the peak of a mountain focuses the attention of the beholder, is the beginning and the end and that which in this world can be learned from divine mysteries. Then, what did Friedrich want to communicate in his paintings by means of the cross? It goes without saying that he showed imagined locations, such that do not exist in reality, conceived within the closed dark space of his studio. He wanted to show places whose structure might in fact be a transformation of the views he had seen, yet they were never a an "imitation of nature". At the same time, those settings were very real, for they revealed a symbolical reality, bearing a metaphysical experience. They were painted with a spiritual eye which was able to perceive the surrounding world "ub specie aeternitatis".

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2011 11:30
Faculties / Institutes: Research Project, Working Group > Individuals
DDC-classification: Painting
Controlled Subjects: Friedrich, Caspar David, Malerei, Kreuz <Motiv>, Landschaft
Subject (classification): Painting
Artists, Architects
Countries/Regions: Germany, Switzerland, Austria
Collection: ART-Dok Central and Eastern Europe