This Week’s Art: Arnold Böcklin


Here’s another week of art commentary, please let me know your thoughts on the art or other comments, and I will be posting this on my MySpace as well.

This is Arnold Bocklin’s Self-portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle (oil on canvas, 1872). I like alot of Bocklin’s work, and I’m becoming a big fan of the Symbolist movement as well probably because of his work.

There is a nice sense of story to this piece, especially in the man’s interest in what the spectre is saying (or playing on the fiddle). It’s a great look on his face, like he’s getting some inside information on how to proceed. Almost like a guru over his shoulder, the spectre seems to be giving Bocklin (in the picture anyway) a plan for his next move.

I take it that the spectre is much like Bocklin’s muse. Much of Bocklin’s work is dark, and the symbolism he uses often touches on topics like war, pesitlence and horror. The spectre as muse idea is amplified by the use of the fiddle, as if giving a sweeter sound to the horror the spectre is pushing.

The layout works very well too, as the locations and color choices help bring your eye right to Bocklin first, then the spectre. Bocklin and his artistry is the centerpiece of the image, but the spectre adds an eerie layer underneath it all, more subtle in color and shading but just as strong.



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