Indexical photo with authorial shadow; graves of Franz and Maria Marc
On 4 March 2016, the 100th anniversary of the death of the painter, animal lover, writer, and ever-elusive person Franz Marc, I visited Marc’s grave in Kochel. Initially I had intended to spend the day between the Lenbachhaus and the Pinakothek der Moderne in München immersed in the paintings I have studied now for many years. But in truth I am devoted to Marc’s life as much as his art, and it seemed more right to take make a pilgrimage and pay respects in the proper sense of the word in the tiny Bavarian town where Marc lived off and on.
This trip was covered on the now-silent Franz Marc Twitter account and received much support and nice wishes from many kind souls.
It was a very emotional experience and had some typical Bavarian humorous adventures as well. I arrived on the regional train at about 11:00 on a dazzling clear, cold day, with most of the snow from the previous week’s blizzard still on the ground. The Ammergau Alps, what Marc called „das blaues Land“, glowed. Inserting itself into this majestic, somber first act was the fact that, in Kochel, Ruhezeit on Fridays apparently begins at 11:00…and this was a very intense Ruhezeit too…everything had abruptly closed, including the flower shop where I had intended to get some violets. I should add that all the flowers and plants were just sitting there outside, and the doors to the shop were open, but the lights were off and the people away being quiet. This was the same at other shops – I have always found it very amusing that in places where Ruhezeit is taken seriously, lunch places also close, even though Ruhezeit is at lunch time, and Kochel takes Ruhezeit quite seriously. In fact it was Friday Ruhezeit the entire time I was there. I stayed until 16:00, the hour of Marc’s death. Continue reading →
Franz Marc’s palette, from the archives of the Franz Marc Museum, Kochel.
Franz Marc’s “Aphorism 82,” from Die 100 Aphorismen, 1915.
“Ich sah das Bild, das in den Augen des Teichhuhns sich bricht, wenn es untertaucht: die tausend Ringe, die jedes kleine Leben einfassen, das Blau der flüsternden Himmel, das der See trinkt, das verzückte Auftauchen an einem andern Ort, – erkennt, meine Freunde, was Bilder sind: das Auftauchen an einem anderen Ort.”
“I saw what the moorhen sees as it dives: the thousand rings that encircle each little life, the blue of the whispering sky swallowed by the lake, the enraptured moment of surfacing in another place. Know, my friends, what images are: the experience of surfacing in another place.”
Danaé Xynias’s “Weite Fluren” is a good match for the Orangerie.
In framing the composition of a landscape painting, the challenge to the image maker, following eons of tradition, comes down fundamentally to where to place the horizon line. Contemporary painters have toyed with this problem experimentally, such as in Colin McCahon‘s various large-panel installations of volcanic vistas in New Zealand. At the far reaches of these modern manifestations falls Trevor Paglen’s Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes (2010) presenting the horizon as, also, metaphorically unreachable. To sort of put things back into perspective, so to speak, Danaé Xynias makes the brave choice to return to the subject of landscape painting – the meeting of land (or water) and sky – allowing the horizon line to settle for the most part naturally in the center of her canvases.
Xynias’s current exhibition, “Weite Fluren,” is a mixture of landscapes and stylized still-lifes. (The still-lifes are certainly interesting in their own right, with rounded forms of pumpkins and melons against a zero-depth background intensifying the relationship between subject and frame.)
A reference in the catalog for the show marks an oblique historical lineage by referencing both Caspar David Friedrich and Jacob van Ruisdael, demurring that Xynias doesn’t quote them directly. This is true, though particularly the low clouds often associated with the van Ruisdael family are a clear evocation of the past. Make no mistake though Xynias is strictly a modernist, in the sense that her facture is very clean, the painted surface entirely flat and removed from the content in careful application. The space Xynias makes reference to in the exhibition title is obviously something that is of keen interest in its totality to the painter, a graduate of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf who practices in a remote studio in Niederbayern. “Weite Fluren” is luminous in its incarnation at the Orangerie in the Englischer Garten, the classicizing space with the summer-lush exterior always at the peripheral always in view. The show is hung simply, without name markers as a distraction, with the larger landscapes singly or in groups slightly above eye-level, making visitors have to look “up” into the skies of the paintings.