Friedrich to Gropius: winter tragedies
C D Friedrich's das Eismeer is explained at length in an entry on de.wikipedia. The English wikipedia entry is about 3 paragraphs, the German one is a great long essay that links the tragedies of Arctic exploration with the tragic failed hopes of the German state, plus a lot of painting analysis, studies, influences, parallel works, modern reinvestigations. The google English translation of this long entry is anarchic in the extreme, sometimes giving up and leaving whole chunks in the original German. It says something about the metaphoric habit of critical writing on art that a word for word translation is so hilarious.
The proportions of Friedrich's das Eismeer are very familiar: a great pile of rock or ice leaning to the left, seemingly aspirational but looking backwards. The focus is at the right hand base of this great pile. It is a diagrammatic lens that painters still use for the Rockies, especially Mt Rundle which from the Trans-Canada highway lookout, leans steeply to the left and could be neatly mapped onto das Eismeer.
The entry includes Gropius' 1922 Monument to the March Dead in Weimar, memorialising the victims of the Kapp Putsch – again, failure, conflict and defeat. The vantage point of the photograph take at the time shows the same left-leaning precipice.
It is the Werther at the heart of the German soul.