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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Spotlight - Bocklin, a Swiss Romanticist with Italian mythological light

This month Spotlight shines on Arnold Bocklin, a Swiss painter of the 19th Century.  He studied at Dusseldorf Academy, then known for vibrant landscape techniques with widely coloured palettes.
Bocklin is best known for a series of later works, various versions of "Isle of the Dead", which sold well through prints.

  Bocklin visited Paris and studied Corot, which brought a lightness to his work, akin to the more Parisien practice of painting en plein air.  A few years later went to Rome and was inspired by the warmth of the light, and by mythological imagery.  He shifted from landscapes to more figurative work, and began to use tempera instead of oils to remove brushstrokes from the images, to capture and recreate the smoothness of skin and light.
In Rome he met his wife to be, and returned to Germany with a family.
From this point, temples and mythological creatures such as Titans and Pan permeate his work, still in landscapes.  Bocklin remained diverse, still painting some landscapes and also portraits, overall showing much diversity of composition as well as fine brush technique.  Much of his works he described as dreamscapes.
   Modern art removed him from the public interest, but he was later rediscovered and some of his ideas and techniques influenced many more progressive artists such as Max Ernst, Dali, and de Chirico. Marcel Duchamp, while very diferent in style and subject, referred to Bocklin his favourite artist.


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