I have spent the past weeks with women: in my studio during the day and reading about them before going to bed. In her book Die Frauen der Romantik (The Women of Romanticism) the philosopher Margarete Susman (1872–1966) deals with five female protagonists from this epoch. Thus far I have discovered Caroline Schlegel, Dorothea Schlegel, and Rahel Varnhagen, who of the three has impressed me the most. I am happy that in connection with my interest in Novalis this book has fallen into my hands. At all times there have been clever and outstanding women, who unfortunately were hardly given a place in the history of art and culture. In Margarete Susman‘s book one learns, above all, something about the life of the five women who were writers or poets. Their intellectual world has certainly influenced that of their male colleagues. Thus far I have not yet found any core statements in the book summing up Romanticism. Novalis says that poetry is the key to life and to higher consciousness, that the world must be romanticized, that one romanticizes when one gives the ordinary a mysterious view, to the known the dignity of the unknown, and the finite an infinite appearance. I think that the epoch of Romanticism has something to do with my work. What exactly, I will try to clarify, to name.
If one takes poetry, as I understand it, as the basic theme of Romanticism, I am somewhat perplexed when I look at pictures of the most important representatives of painting of this time, Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge. In contrast, with reference to romantic content the work of William Turner is insightful. Apparently the English contemporary of Friedrich and Runge drew quite different conclusions from these basic themes. To me Turner‘s paintings appear more poetic and atmospheric. Also, I do not see in him the dark and the mystical, traits which are generally attributed to romantics.
A dear friend brought to my attention a book about Romanticism by Rüdiger Safranski. That will be my next reading material for a better understanding of this epoch. For the writings from this period are indeed too extensive for me to acquire deeper insights by reading them myself.
In the meantime, in my studio I have begun a series with “thread women.” For a very long time now I have worked thread into my paintings, it has always been a fascinating medium for me. Previously “my people” played with it, knitted, pulled at each other’s pullovers and dresses, got tangled up… It displays a very unique quality of lines, can be connective and divisive at the same time. For awhile thread faded into the background for me, but now I have taken it up again, in that, respectively, I drape and work with it on the heads of my women. I always try to determine why I do something, from which sources I create. But I‘m always trying to figure out why I do something, what sources I draw from. But ultimately the whole painterly process remains mysterious to me. I am an observer of what emerges, which until now follows my common, inner thread that meanders logically which up until now grants me nothing but a vague idea in which wrinkles and on which elevations it will lie on the way through infinite possibilities.