I went to see the unique exhibition ‘Dark Romanticism’ at the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt last Friday.
Ever since I knew they showed William Blake’s ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Woman clothed with the Sun’ and Johann Heinrich Fuselis’s ‘Nightmare’ I knew I had to see the exhibition!
I was surprised to find that about thirty other people had already gathered outside the doors of the museum on that ice-cold morning shortly before 10 o’clock. It was great to see so many people interested in art and I must admit I always hugely enjoy the variety of human beings in museums. From flamboyant to bohemian, from snobbish to very alternative (and admittedly quite smelly looking), from young gay couples to old hetero couples –I admit they are almost as interesting as the exhibits – almost! I’ll leave the bunch of frog students that didn’t even bother to feign interest in the paintings gracefully out. (Otherwise I might be tempted to call them little fuckers!)
The exhibition opened with Fuseli’s ‘Nightmare’ – one of my favourite paintings ever! I was in awe of seeing that oil painting for real for the first time, taking it in, sucking it onto the memory stick in my brain. I inspected it very closely to see the layers of colour that had been used. I was impressed at how the little evil critter sitting on the woman’s chest looked very different to the other structure of the canvas…it looked eerie, like it could crawl right out of the painting any minute and I loved it!!
Then around the corner I saw it! William Blake’s watercolour ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun’! It was a very special moment for me, as I’ve been wanting to see the original for years now! It took all my inner restraint not to run straight towards the painting, tear it off and try to make a run for it to make it mine, mine, mine!
I’ve always been a huge fan of Blake, his poems and his paintings, and now here I stood, in front of his most renowned work, made immortal by playing an important part in Thomas Harris’s masterpiece of thriller literature “Red Dragon”!
I was surprised how small the watercolour was and I stood glued to the floor right in front of the painting sighing and growling at other people who stood way too close to me probably trying to get me moving by invading my territorial bubble. Maybe they were just attracted by my perfume – who knows?
I would’ve liked nothing more than my hubby taking a quick photo that shows me standing next to the Great Red Dragon, but as any photography was forbidden and the security was heavy he didn’t dare and I was heartbroken.
So instead I made a desperate move and when no one was looking I took my chance and I ate the painting!!!! 😉
The exhibition featured many great other artists, disturbing works by Francisco Goya, Max Ernst, Caspar David Friedrich, Eugène Delacroix, René Magritte and many more! One of my favourite Salvador Dalí paintings called ‘Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening’ (now that’s what I call a title!) was also on display!
I fell in love with the very detailed bronze statue of ‘Satan’, skilfully crafted by Jean-Jacque Feuchère and I felt the little statue influencing me, the voice of the devil whispering to me how stupid I was not to bring a bigger handbag!
The painting “Grief” by Oskar Zwintscher was one of the most impressive paintings I have ever seen. Not only because of its huge size but also because of how with only few means it originally and impressively depicts what actual grief looks like. It’s a heartbreaking masterpiece and I almost broke into tears because it felt like the sorrow and pain of the man mourning his dead lover seemed to reach out to me – and everyone who knows me is aware I am not exactly the tearful type! I hadn’t seen the painting before but after seeing it I will never forget it again!
I liked how the curators managed to include even photography and movies into the exhibition. In divided areas they showed excerpts of James Whale’s masterpiece “Frankenstein” and the notorious eye-cutting scene from the collaboration ‘Un chien andalou’ by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dalí.
The clippings from the black and white classics ‘Dracula’, ‘Faust’, ‘Vampyr’ and ‘The Phantom Carriage’ showed impressively how artfully and lovingly the directors had brought their subjects to the screen. The films are almost a hundred years old and are still being visually more gripping than too much of the crap that Hollywood is producing every day.
The exhibition at the Staedel Museum is extremely recommended and still on until January 20th 2013 in Frankfurt.
Afterwards it’ll move to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
The website of the museum is also in English and the impressive exhibition catalogue is also available in English!