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    Required Reading | January 16, 2015

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Solar Dance: Van Gogh, Forgery, and the Eclipse of Certainty

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Solar Dance: Van Gogh, Forgery, and the Eclipse of Certainty Cover

 

 

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<p><b>From Part One: </b><b><i>The Palette</i></b></p><p><b><i> </i></b></p><p><b><i> Spirits</i></b></p><p><b><i> </i></b></p><p><b><i> </i></b>&ldquo;In the early twentieth century a wind was blowing in Berlin,&rdquo; recalled the Belgian architect and designer Henry van de Velde in his memoirs. That wind of change could not be confined to Berlin. It reached to Dresden and Munich, where like-minded artists joined together to promote what one of their number, Wassily Kandinsky, called &ldquo;the spiritual in art.&rdquo; In 1911 the art historian Wilhelm Worringer was the first to apply the term Expressionism to a new tendency &ldquo;in which mind declares its autonomy over the experience of nature.&rdquo; Expressionism represented a spiritual rebellion against science, materialism, and law. Emerging from the depths of the human soul, the movement would redeem mankind from the world of matter and connect it to the cosmic, eternal, and godly&mdash;or so its proponents promised. One of the principal innovators behind the new development, said Worringer, had been Vincent van Gogh. </p><p> </p><p> By the time Worringer composed his treatise, Van Gogh&rsquo;s influence on contemporary German art was openly acknowledged. The group of painters in Dresden who in 1905 formed <i>Die Br&uuml;cke</i> (The Bridge), among them Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Ferdinand Hodler, enthused over the Van Gogh work they had seen at the local Arnold gallery that year. They took their name from a comment by Nietzsche: &ldquo;What is great in man is that he is a bridge, not a goal.&rdquo; In 1911 a group of artists in Munich formed a counterpart of The Bridge which they called <i>Der blaue Reiter</i> (The Blue Rider). They had first encountered Van Gogh three years earlier, when two Munich galleries, Zimmermann and Brakl, exhibited some of his paintings. </p><p> </p><p> The transplanted Russian painter Alexej Jawlensky, a former military officer who had moved to Munich, bought <i>The House of P&egrave;re Pilon </i> from Brakl. He wrote Johanna van Gogh a letter of appreciation: &ldquo;Van Gogh has been a teacher and a model to me. Both as man and artist he is dear and close to me. It has been one of my most ardent desires for years to possess something from his hand ... Never did a work by your late brother-in-law find itself in more reverent hands.&rdquo; Jawlensky would attribute what he called &ldquo;inner ecstasy&rdquo; in his own work to Van Gogh&rsquo;s inspiration. His compatriot and colleague in Munich, Kandinsky, also went through a phase in 1908 and 1909 when Van Gogh&rsquo;s influence, especially in the free use of color, was obvious. Walter Leistikow, Franz Marc, August Macke, Heinrich Campendonk, Max Ernst, and Gabriele M&uuml;nter were others who acknowledged the inspiration of Van Gogh, to the point where some made a conscious effort to distinguish themselves from his effect. &ldquo;I had moments when I hated Van Gogh,&rdquo; said Heinrich Nauen, &ldquo;because I felt that he was oppressing my spirit; I hated him as lovers can hate when they stifle each other.&rdquo; </p><p> </p><p> The German Expressionist artists borrowed from Impressionism, especially its emphasis on color and life, but at the same time distanced themselves vociferously from the &ldquo;French style&rdquo; that they considered frivolous and superficial. The detail, precision, and loyalty to nature of Impressionism gave way to bolder strokes and more strident emotion. It was the psychic realm that interested the Expressionists. To them and their &ldquo;raw art&rdquo; Van Gogh became a hero. &ldquo;The whole of French art,&rdquo; remarked Jawlensky, is nature beautifully, extremely beautifully, observed; but all in all that is too little: one has to create one&rsquo;s own nature, Van Gogh.&rdquo; Here the Dutchman was being turned into a teacher, mentor, and veritable school of his own. The Expressionists were attracted not only to Van Gogh&rsquo;s dramatic colors but also to his mysticism, madness, and death. In 1907 Emil Nolde suggested to the Dresden group that they call themselves &ldquo;Van Goghiana&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;The Bridge.&rdquo; Others were to say later of the Dresden circle that their paintings looked like an encounter of Van Gogh with Nietzsche. </p><p> </p>

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674065673
Author:
Eksteins, Modris
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Subject:
World History-Germany
Subject:
ART / History/Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
Subject:
ART / Criticism & Theory
Subject:
History, Modern -- 19th century.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20120417
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 halftones
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Forgery
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Theory and Criticism
Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

Solar Dance: Van Gogh, Forgery, and the Eclipse of Certainty Used Hardcover
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Product details 368 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674065673 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Art dealer Otto Wacker's 1932 sensational trial in Berlin for selling fake Van Goghs leads Eksteins to a unique narrative of a collapsing Weimar Germany, the rise of another misfit, Adolf Hitler, and the replacement of nineteenth-century certitude with twentieth-century doubt.
"Synopsis" by , Finalist, 2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Writers' Trust of Canada
"Synopsis" by , In Solar Dance, acclaimed writer and scholar Modris Eksteins uses Vincent van Gogh as his lens for this brilliant survey of Western culture and politics in the last century.

The long-awaited follow-up to Modris Eksteins' internationally acclaimed Rites of Springand Walking Since Daybreak. Now he has produced another thrilling, iconoclastic work of cultural history that is a trailblazing biography of an era--from the eve of the First World War and the rise of Hitler to the fall of the Berlin Wall--that illuminates our current world, with its cults of celebrity and the crisis of the authentic. Solar Danceis a penetrating examination of legitimacy and truth, fakery and pretence--highly relevant to all of us today.

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