Museum Exhibition Catalogues, Monographs, Artist's Projects, Curatorial Writings and Essays
"To train the eye, one must observe, compare forms to each other, examine attitudes, facial characteristics, one must look at colors and compare them. Our eye develops by looking at things. Obviously, it is the brain which sees and hears. But apart from that, the eye is an instrument which can be perfected, both in accuracy and aesthetic judgment. Too see is to know an object in its proportions, such as they appear to the eye. Therefore to see is to know." Ferdinand Hodler, Le mission de l'artiste (The Mission of the Artist), 1896/97.
Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) is one of Europe’s most influential artistic personalities, whose work bridged the styles of Realism, Symbolism, and the modern period. Despite initial praise, his extensive oeuvre has not always been an object of admiration; its diversity and originality, however, deserve international re-evaluation. Hodler’s Symbolist vision of a large, harmonious union of man and nature is expressed both in unique and monumental figurative compositions, and in stylized landscapes of sheer mountain peaks and glinting lakes.
During the last years of his life, Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) made significant advances in his painting, creating some of his most important and touching masterpieces. Working in series and variations, he gave new, liberated form to some of his life’s great themes: the beauty of the Swiss mountains and lakes, his fascination with women, self-scrutiny and confrontation with death. This is the first publication to provide an extensive overview of Hodler’s late works from the years 1913 to 1918. It surveys the self-portraits, the famous and extremely moving series of paintings addressing the suffering and death of his lover, Valentine Godé-Darel, and many gorgeous panoramas of the Alps and Lake Geneva, painted in close-up or at a distance at various times of the day and year. A particular highlight of the period and this volume is Hodler’s monumental mural, View to Infinity.
Ferdinand Hodler’s emotionally loaded landscapes and ritualized portraits were among the earliest harbingers of Expressionist painting in Europe, and a key bridge between the idioms of late-nineteenth-century Symbolism, Realism and modernist Expressionism. Published for a major 2012 exhibition at New York’s Neue Galerie, this volume gathers a selection of Hodler’s best-loved work: his famous late paintings, in which figures are heavily stylized and landscapes are pared down to simple effects of mood and color; his outstanding works on paper; and the much-acclaimed, extremely moving series of works chronicling the illness and early death of the artist’s lover, Valentine Godé-Darel. A documentary section reproduces letters, sketchbooks and photographs that illuminate the relationship between Hodler and Godé-Darel. Central to this publication is the role that series and variations play throughout Hodler’s oeuvre--most famously in his groups of figures arranged in ritualized poses, a style to which he gave the name “Parallelism.” This volume reveals Hodler both as a painter of great emotional intensity and as a crucial progenitor of the Expressionist worldview. Ferdinand Hodler (1835–1918) was born in Bern, Switzerland. By the time Hodler was eight years old, he had lost his father and two younger brothers to tuberculosis; his mother and remaining siblings would also succumb to the disease, instilling in the artist a heightened sense of mortality. The Vienna Secession’s 1903 exhibition of his work, for which Josef Hofmann built the galleries, was decisive for Expressionist painters such as Emil Nolde and particularly Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who later made a woodcut portrait of Hodler in homage to his influence.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Katharina Schmidt. Text by Oskar Bätschmann, Robert Kopp, Matthias Frehner, Paul Muller, Katharina Schmidt.
Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler is one of Europe’s best least-known artists. Though he remained in Switzerland for his entire life, his international reputation has been growing in the past several decades, beginning with a traveling retrospective in the early 1970s. Hodler, who kept up on the latest movements brewing in Paris, is considered a Symbolist who tempered that movement’s flights of fancy with Realism. He is regarded as a bridge between the Modern period and the impulses of mid-1800s Realism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau. As may be expected with such a range of influences at the artist's disposal, Hodler’s style fluctuated widely throughout his career. His most well known painting may be “The Woodcutter” (1908), which was commissioned as an illustration for the Swiss 50-franc note. “The Woodcutter” is a strange and engaging mixture of Expressionism--the subject is depicted mid-chop in vigorous brush strokes--and Symbolism, as the ghostly landscape behind the figure supports an odd, bright blue, orb-like cloud. More than two decades since his last retrospective, this fresh and extensive assessment of Hodler’s paintings finds much new territory to uncover.