Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exam Week: The Wanderer Above The Mists

This is Triss' composition on Caspar David Friedrich's painting, "The Wanderer Above the Mists", written last week during exams:

"The Wanderer Above the Mists" is a painting by Friedrich, who lived in the 1800s. It depicts a lone man standing with his back to the audience, evidently gazing over and across swirling mists to just-visible mountains. He is standing on a knoll or hill of some sort, and wearing very fine clothes, though his hair is in disarray. Though the mist appears white at first, upon closer inspection it proves to be made up of light, pastel blues, yellows and pinks, creating an effect not unlike the stars in Van Gogh's "Starry Night".

This picture is said to be very symbolic. The man is the painter himself, gazing across the mists of his life's tribulation and disorder to the mountains of Paradise. This seems an odd pick, to me. Why would mountains, which usually represent hardship and accomplishment, be Paradise? One possible answer is that the painter felt that he himself must work hard to get into Heaven, as many people in those days did. But these ideas of symbolism are merely guesses on the part of the viewers (*sic), as the painter said nothing about what it represented, or indeed if it represented anything more than a man, mists and mountains.

*Actually, Friedrich left journals describing the symbolism of his paintings, so this detail is incorrect. I still consider this a model composition, since she stated the main idea and important details, and included her own thoughts and opinions on the painting, as well as attempting connections with other things she has studied.


Brooke said...

Thank you for this entry. We are studying The Wanderer Above The Mists this week. We wondered where we could find the journals of Friedrich on-line, if anywhere at all :) Also, is that a hand reaching up by his left foot, it sure looks like it at this website of a life-size rendition.

Katie said...

I haven't seen his journals online, but I would be interested to know as well.

As for the hand, wow. I sure would like to see this painting in person to find out for sure. Thanks for sharing the link!

Brooke said...

My husband says he doesn't think it is....I don't know why I can't seem to believe him....just looks like one to me.

Katie said...

My daughter said she thought it was a clump of grass. There are other clumps a little further down the rock. It would be neat to see the real painting.

terryinwva said...

well, you know how you start looking for one thing on the internet and then go off on a tangent? that's why i'm here. just wanted to put my vote in for clump of grass. although i think i can see the outlines of alien spacecraft in the mist (on the blown up picture):)