caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog

Caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog
Robert Macfarlane discusses the painting in terms of its significant influence on how mountain climbing has been viewed in the Western world since the Romantic era, calling it the “archetypical image of the mountain-climbing visionary”, and describing its power in representing the concept that standing on mountain tops is something to be admired, an idea which barely existed in earlier centuries. [12]
In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He is wrapped in a dark green overcoat, and grips a walking stick in his right hand. [3] His hair caught in a wind, the wanderer gazes out on a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. In the middle ground, several other ridges, perhaps not unlike the ones the wanderer himself stands upon, jut out from the mass. [4] Through the wreaths of fog, forests of trees can be perceived atop these escarpments. In the far distance, faded mountains rise in the left, gently leveling off into lowland plains in the right. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky. [3]

Caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog
In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He is wrapped in a dark green overcoat, and grips a walking stick in his right hand. [3] His hair caught in a wind, the wanderer gazes out on a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. In the middle ground, several other ridges, perhaps not unlike the ones the wanderer himself stands upon, jut out from the mass. [4] Through the wreaths of fog, forests of trees can be perceived atop these escarpments. In the far distance, faded mountains rise in the left, gently leveling off into lowland plains in the right. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky. [3]
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is true to the Romantic style and Friedrich’s style in particular, [6] being similar to other works such as Chalk Cliffs on Rügen and The Sea of Ice. Gorra’s (2004) analysis was that the message conveyed by the painting is one of Kantian self-reflection, expressed through the wanderer’s gazings into the murkiness of the sea of fog. [4] Dembo (2001) sympathised, asserting that Wanderer presents a metaphor for the unknown future. [7] Gaddis (2004) felt that the impression the wanderer’s position atop the precipice and before the twisted outlook leaves “is contradictory, suggesting at once mastery over a landscape and the insignificance of the individual within it”. [3]

Caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog
I touched on the spacing a little bit earlier. The waves and fog blur the line of the horizon, so it’s hard to tell where the sea ends and the mountains begin; the fog also contributes to distorting the viewer’s depth perception. This gives the feeling that the sea so vast that it can’t be clearly observed, and also emphasizes the great vastness of nature compared to the minute blip of existence that is mankind.
I enjoy this painting for many reasons. I believe it captures the spirit of romanticism while also incorporating its own distinctly German elements to it — if you have even a shallow familiarity with art history, you look at it and just know it’s German. Also, there’s simply the pure aesthetic appeal of the painting: it’s interesting to look at and the suggestions it makes captivates the imagination.

Caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is true to the Romantic style and Friedrich’s style in particular, being similar to other works such as Chalk Cliffs on Rügen and The Sea of Ice. Gorra’s (2004) analysis was that the message conveyed by the painting is one of Kantian self-reflection, expressed through the wanderer’s gazings into the murkiness of the sea of fog. Dembo (2001) sympathised, asserting that Wanderer presents a metaphor for the unknown future. Gaddis (2004) felt that the impression the wanderer’s position atop the precipice and before the twisted outlook leaves “is contradictory, suggesting at once mastery over a landscape and the insignificance of the individual within it”.
Some meaning of this work is lost in the translation of its title. In German, the title is “Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer”. Wanderer in German can mean either “wanderer” or “hiker”.

Caspar david friedrich.wanderer above the sea of fog
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog
By separating the figure and the viewer, the latter focuses more on the beauty of the surroundings rather than the man’s role in nature.

References:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog
http://medium.com/@gothgordongekko/art-critique-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog-ec4572fed347
http://www.wikiart.org/en/caspar-david-friedrich/the-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog
http://www.artble.com/artists/caspar_david_friedrich/paintings/wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog

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