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Caspar David Friedrich - The Stages of Life

Category: Artwork 17. December 2015

Caspar David Friedrich’s "Stages of Life" is one of the most famous artworks of the Romanticist painter. The journeys of human lives are symbolized by ships sailing on the ocean. When the ship approaches the harbour, the life of the person comes to its end. Friedrich’s pictures express the loss of human centrality in the artistic discourse of the 19th century. Landscape is no more a mere background, and the humans depicted in it turn their back towards the viewer. This displacement favours the dispossessing twist of the anthropocentric dissolution: Man loses his central place and becomes an observer; his presence is merely the trace of a lost authority.

In the Germanic experience of nature, a very mystical and personal sentiment, the painter found the method to bring one of romanticisms fundamental aspirations to its perfection: the merging of inner and outer realities, the vision of the landscape as a suggestive reflection of the soul. Minimizing human presence, as already anticipated by Far Eastern Taoist landscape painters, introduced a new approach into the European cultural context, and its after-effects are still noticeable to our days in Conceptual Art and Land Art.

In our film Christof Metzger, chief curator at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, talks about this artwork by Romanticist painter Caspar David Friedrich. The exhibition "Worlds of Romanticism" is on display at Albertina Museum in Vienna till 21st of February 2016. (written by Cem Angeli)

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