"Lüneburger Heide (Luneburg Heath)", 1937
Oil on canvas
Expertise Modersohn Museum
- with handmade craftsman's frame -
Our gaze is initially drawn to the country path winding left into the pictorial background, and then beyond onto the vast deserted landscape of the Luneburg Heath. Wind–lashed Juniper bushes leap up above the line of the horizon into the cloud–studded skies. Appearing as the sole fixed point is the gabled wall of a farmstead. The remaining canvas is dominated by the storm careering over the bleak and sandy plain, sweeping up the grass, the bushes, the birds and the clouds. The heavily–overcast firmament towers above the dark and desolate natural backdrop. Earthy and dappled hues of grey, brown and ochre, pierced only by a weak shaft of light evoke a dramatic and sinister mood. With his keen sensibility for the expressive qualities of the north German heathland, Modersohn distils onto the canvas the special atmosphere of a stormy day in this unspoiled and remote region. His application of expressive painterly devices is a striking response both to the external manifestations of Nature and to the deep emotions they arouse. A late work dating from 1937, this painting is among the very last landscapes fashioned by the artist. In the previous year he had suffered a stroke which led to blindness on one eye, which eventually forced Otto Modersohn to abandon his depictions of Nature. The painting also marks the conclusion of the artist's exploration of motifs relating to the moor and heathland in the north of Germany, which spanned over 5 decades. Dark–toned, and melancholic in its overall impact, the composition can be read as a mirror of the mental state of the aging 72–year–old painter.
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