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Friday
May192017

Ferdinand Hodler: Synthesizing Art Nouveau and Symbolism

Ferdinand Hodler - The Night - 1889-1890 - Oil on canvas - 116x299 cm - Berne Kunstmuseum (click photo for larger image)Art Nouveau artist Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) was one of the most important painters of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Although in his early years he produced portraits heavily influenced by the French Realist Gustave Courbet, by the mid-1880s Hodler leaned toward works from which a more deliberate linear self-stylization emerged. His subjects also began to deal with the symbolism of youth and age, solitude, and contemplation.  

In the work featured here, Die Nacht (The Night) the painter portrays himself as having been rudely awakened by the figure of death. Around him are entwined men and women, asleep, with self-portraits slipped in along with portraits of the two women with whom Hodler shared his life at that time: Augustine Dupain, his companion since the early days and mother of his son, and Bertha Stuckie, his wife from a brief and tempestuous marriage.

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