February 26, 2024

Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

I don’t know about you, but whenever I find myself looking at a sublime old landscape painting, like those of JMW Turner or Samuel Palmer, I often find myself thinking: “Hmm. Well, it’s quite good, but what this canvas really needs is the image of a big random black man bouncing about in it as if he owns the bloody place.”

Last week on Taki’s I bemoaned the growing practice of dumbing down museums and art galleries, as exemplified by Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum bizarrely inserting images of Pokémon into Vincent’s classic old paintings of sunflowers produced in the 19th-century countryside of the Johto and Kanto Regions. But at least that was just silly, dumbed-down, and commercial (and also very cute). Rather more sinister—and ugly—is the rival curatorial practice of doctoring artworks so that they contain “improving” messages of political import as well. Messages of political import such as “black people have always been here”…even when they really haven’t.

Back in the good old days, Stalinists had the decency only to remove images of unwanted persons from photographs and paintings; now, like Woody Allen in Zelig, they prefer to do the precise opposite and insert them instead. Amazingly, the Great Replacement has now gone so far, it has even begun to affect not only the demographics of the white Western future (if there is one), but also the classic artworks of the white Western past. Prepare to encounter the sad new phenomenon of what I like to call “The Reverse-Trotsky.”

“What is the mentality of someone who goes to a Caspar David Friedrich show primarily in order to look at those works on display which are not actually by Caspar David Friedrich at all?”

Art of Darkness
I have recently lamented elsewhere the ludicrous current attempts of the Hamburg Kunsthalle (i.e., Hamburg Art Gallery) to insert spurious images of climate change into the classic canvases of the German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840). In particular, his best-known meisterwerk, 1818’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, has been doctored in the Kunsthalle’s new Friedrich retrospective marking 250 years since the great man’s birth, so that it no longer shows a lonely traveler staring out enigmatically across white, blue, and gray mountain-mists, but the selfsame figure gazing in horror upon a radically different hellscape of lurid reds and oranges, as the entire planet burns due to you not having bought a Tesla and started swallowing grasshoppers yet.

At least Friedrich’s paintings did actually have something to do with the environment, however, depicting as they did unspoiled scenes from Nature. But what do they have to do with the “progressive” German government’s other contemporary modish obsession, namely, that of mass-importing ever-greater numbers of Dakarais to replace all the Dieters? About as much as the paintings of Vincent van Gogh have to do with Pokémon.

As Friedrich was born a full quarter of a millennium ago, he lived in a nation whose inhabitants were every bit as white as those of Pilsbury Dough-Land, so, quite naturally, neglected to paint any Africans frolicking vibrantly within his canvases. This, apparently, was highly racist and led directly to the birth of German Nazism.

Here are the words of the (probably white) author of the Hamburg Kunsthalle’s online press kit for the exhibition:

The tension between the gradual destruction of the environment and a yearning for untouched Nature has been an unbroken force from the Romantic age down to our own times. In Friedrich’s day, however, the Romantic perception of Nature carried national connotations, whereas today’s artists approach the natural world and climate change from a global perspective. In this spirit, the exhibition embraces recent work devoted to the darker sides and absences [the key word here] in Romantic art and later reactions to it. Colonialism and its impact on people and natural resources are as much a theme here as the Western, hegemonial concept of Nature and its expressions in art.

So, Caspar David Friedrich’s works are highly racist—they have to be, they were created by a dead white male, and the prevailing narrative that all such inferior beings were genocidal monsters just like that similar dead white male watercolorist Herr A. Hitler has at all costs to be maintained.

Yet, awkwardly, Caspar mostly just painted nice pictures of people looking at the moon at night and stuff, rather than, say, black African babies being burned alive in the town square of central Dusseldorf for the local Nordic children to laugh at whilst roasting (white) marshmallows on big sticks above their sizzling corpses. Therefore, rather than condemn Friedrich’s artworks for what is inside them, the alternative, quite deranged, tack has to be taken to condemn them for what is not inside them instead, namely Nigerians—hence that pseudish talk of significant “absences in Romantic art” on the Kunsthalle’s website. Caucasians also suffer equally from “absences in Yoruba statuary,” I suppose, but you don’t hear any white Marxist curators from Hamburg complaining about that.

Black Still Lives Matter
A characteristic illustration of the pseudo-critical woke word-vomit such actions subsequently engendered can be found in a January review of the Kunsthalle’s exhibition on the leading art website Frieze, written by a Very Intellectual black lady named Edna Bonhomme.

Entitled “A Major Caspar David Friedrich Show Brings the Underserved [i.e., Africans] in from the Cold,” Bonhomme opens by effusing about how, when she slithered into the exhibition—which was ostensibly supposed to be a big solo show about Friedrich himself, remember, not about Edna Bonhomme—“it was not his mist-furled mountains that caught my eye but the work of another [artist] in which I saw a version of myself reflected.” Translation: My favorite picture was the one of an African that looked a bit like me.

If all you wanted to see was “a version of myself reflected,” Edna, shouldn’t you have gone to a Hall of Mirrors, not a Hall of Art? You’d think she was writing for Der Spiegel, not Frieze (a little joke for German-speakers, there).

What is the mentality of someone who goes to a Caspar David Friedrich show primarily in order to look at those works on display which are not actually by Caspar David Friedrich at all? The mentality of Edna Bonhomme, evidently.

Bolt-On Wanderers
The four-meter-tall image Bonhomme enjoyed gazing into like a big fat wank-mirror dominates one of the main rooms supposedly devoted to showcasing Friedrich’s work, standing at its center as if to say, “Your world revolves around ME now, white people!” because, increasingly, this is now becoming the actual case, as a matter of deliberate government policy.

This “painting” actually appears to be some sort of digital display on a multiscreened video-cube device, presumably produced by twiddling on-screen sliders around on Photoshop. Kehinde Wiley, the massive knob-manipulator in question, is a black U.S. painter best known for his 2018 portrait of Barack Obama and his Zelig-like works depicting “a panoply of melanin-rich people in art-historical contexts” where they did not rightfully belong, on account of the awkward fact that Kanye West was never really there helping Napoleon Crossing the Alps in the first place.

This process of deliberate historical falsification is continued in Wiley’s digital Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog pastiche, 2021’s The Prelude (Babacar Mané), which shows former Liverpool FC forward Sadio Man’s twin brother as a bolt-on substitute for Friedrich’s original sickeningly white wanderer perched alone upon the mountaintop—or, as Bonhomme puts it, Wiley has “provocatively replaced [yes indeed!] the iconic (white) explorer with a Black male figure adorned with cornrows” instead.

Elsewhere on the Prelude video-cube-thing, another of Friedrich’s best-loved paintings, 1818’s Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, has been similarly invaded from the sea by a pair of dinghy-sailing migrants of less-than-chalky complexion. Bonhomme continues, eulogizing how this new, racially defaced image:

draws the viewer in to an ecstatic event: Black people frolicking in a glacial fjord, smiling while surrounded by a thicket of snow…. In Prelude, Black people’s presence in a tundra-like environment is an unbounded promise of freedom and joy. Serenity on display. What it reveals is a radical contingency, one that white hegemony would not care to admit: Black people, when given the chance to exist, are majestic.

What does she mean, “when given the chance to exist”? Black people don’t have to apply to a Federal Ontology Department in order to have their presence within Germany officially confirmed by State-funded public sector Cartesians, you know. German may be the language Kafka wrote in, but even they don’t go that far yet.

The Remaster Race
Apparently, the narrative here is that the very European countryside itself is an inherently racist space within which, historically, black people were systemically unwelcome and excluded. The fact that Friedrich’s paintings, unlike Wiley’s (which just exclude white people—and, upon this evidence, Asians and Arabs too, come to think of it) exclude black people “proves” it. “Over the past several years, communities of color have asked if they too can cherish the Black Forest,” Bonhomme claims. Well, why not? Pretty soon they’ll be saying it was named after them, and no whites should be allowed in there anymore at all, like the Australian Abos did with Uluru.

The whole point of the German Romantic movement of men like Friedrich, Goethe, and Novalis was to erase the distance between oneself and Nature, to enter into it and let it enter into you, to see the world reflected within yourself, and yourself reflected within the world. Ironically, these self-obsessed artists, activists, gallerists, critics, and campaigners have taken this process to its logical extreme: systematically effacing and distorting the genuine artistic past and replacing it wholesale with a complete load of lying shit about global warming and the “majesty” of a specific Far-Left minoritarian subset of narcissistic black people.

The Kunsthalle Kunts claim this whole process is morally necessary because…blah, blah, blah, Germany is the home of Nazism…rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, Hitler was an amateur painter himself (a much better one than Kehinde Wiley, by the way, and Adolf didn’t even own a computer), who loved Friedrich, and facilitated displays of his work during the 1930s, somehow causing the Holocaust, probably…yadda yadda yadda, by portraying the German landscape in the Romantic, Kenyan-free fashion he once did, Friedrich helped unify the previously balkanized German people into one coherent political whole, thereby leading to an upsurge in hateful nationalism which ultimately led to the rise of fascism…yakkety yakkety yak…when you really think about it, Caspar David Friedrich caused WWII, told the Gestapo Anne Frank was hiding in the attic, and shot Martin Luther King and lynched Emmett Till to boot…blah, blah blah…drone on the professionally self-hating curators, endlessly, to anyone historically retarded enough to actually listen.

Western culture is now utterly dead, and its supposed “guardians” are the ones most guilty of the crime—they did it in the art gallery, with a pipe made from some seriously leaden prose. But the whole self-loathing exercise is thoroughly pointless. Don’t these philistines realize that, by definition, the human figures within any painting are already highly pigmented in their nature anyway?


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