Romantics were not only painters, but poets, philosophers and composers. They wanted to bring back emotions to everyday life. They liked personal interpretation, superstitions and respected nature and solitude as they believed man could not overcome nature; they were inspired by its wildness and uncontrollability.
The Romantic period happened around the same time as the French Revolution and a lot of political upheaval – they liked regular people and disliked people who worked things out logically, for example they thought science was too dangerous and risky. They valued emotion and imagination instead of facts and logic and they celebrated individuality.
I can relate this painting to Romanticism as it immediately calls on my emotion of fear and it is quite a scary painting. It is supernatural which relates back to how the Romantic’s were. It cannot be supported with evidence and isn’t like a classical painting, this is because the romantics didn’t like logic and celebrated imagination.
Sublime paintings are usually large scale dramatic pieces of art that the Romantic’s favoured. Large scale art made them feel small and reminded them that there is a superior being than them.
Picturesque paintings are delicate and make you want to be there.
Caspar David Friedrich
I studied some of Friedrich’s work and picked out which ones I found the most interesting. The painting I liked the most was ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. I found it the most interesting as the man in the painting has his back to the viewer which I had not seen before in a painting before. I couldn’t at first make my mind up on wether the painting was picturesque or sublime. The rocks that pierce out of the mist is quite dramatic which made me thought it was sublime, however the man in the painting is looking out over the rocks and mist and stands tall, and I would like to go there and have that experience (not being able to see the man’s face is also something I found interesting as the viewer cannot see his emotions).
I have seen similar imagery like this in a video game advert in which the character looks out to the city with his back to the viewer so we cannot see his emotion.
In class we had a task to write a postcard home describing how we feel, imagining that we are in one of Friedrich’s paintings. I chose to imagine I was in the ‘Sea of Ice’:
It’s really cold here. I’m scared. I just want to be home. The ice around me is breaking up and soon there won’t be any for me to stand on. The ice is snapping and splintering around me. The wind is ripping through my clothes like daggers, I don’t think I have much time left to write, I need to get out of here.