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Who was really Ferdinand Hodler? – Culture of messages: art



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A woman and a man are waiting for a taxi in Geneva. "Do you know who works in the studio?" The man asks and immediately responds: "A strange guy from a painter, a man without education, a decoupled bear." Every day a different woman, brown, red, blond, young, old. He says they are models, but even the ugliest are welcome. He is the greatest painter in the world just because he earned a lot of money empty. Just never go in! »

Man and woman, they both know: it's too late. The woman is already inside and outside the main painter. Stéphanie Guerzoni, the name of a woman who is waiting for a taxi almost a century ago, is his student who will never make a name for herself. Everyone who is looking for her today finds only one permanent job – not a picture, but a book: "Ferdynand Hodler as a man, painter and teacher". And this man at the taxi stand, who speaks about himself in the third person, as if he was someone else, is Ferdinand Hodler.

His merry pranks

What his student particularly values ​​in her teacher is his "happy trick" in dealing with himself, and now Hodler is babbling about what was said about him. That he works only for money, that he is a womanizer, he likes to combine painting with loved ones, models with wives. In fact, he freed himself from bourgeois morality, that is what he is talking about. And he is proud of money. He is a threefold millionaire, he does not hide it, on the contrary.

"Compliments," says Hodler to his student Stéphanie Guerzoni, are too cheap. "Only if an amateur shows a wallet to buy you a photo, you are sure he likes it."

Now he is 65 years old and he suspects waiting for a taxi that he does not have much time left. He knows the way around death. He lost all his close relatives. He painted his two beloved lovers, at the same time the mother of his two children, to the end. As suffering, dying, dead.

«I whistle for everything that they say about me»: Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918), recorded around 1913. Photo: Keystone

The older Hodler, the more obsessive about production. "In a row" people complain that they do not understand what drives it: constantly creating the same. Three, four, five women dancing in a row, poor people alongside the poor, mountain ranges behind mountains, often lined up. What art historians call "parallelism", Hodler understands as "any kind of repetition." When he paints, he lives.

Womanizer? Each time thirst rises for the third time in every respect. Even before his 50th birthday, he has 200 exhibitions. After each win he wins, he wants the next one. "He was a suffering person," says his colleague artist Cuno Amiet. "He set all his ambitions to be at the forefront to dominate, from painting to painting, from year to year more intense."

Severe childhood

The current vortex around the centenary of his death would be happy. Special exhibitions, symposia, media reports, a new stamp. He would be pissed at the new biography at the same time, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and well-known collectors such as Christoph Blocher and Thomas Schmidheiny. 2 kg of heavy, 325 pages thick topseriös have been announced. Everything that was in it was what can be documented by the documents: "The traditional legends that became legendary were studied" and then crossed out. But what is a hodler without a legend? Something like Switzerland without Hodler – unrealistic.

This is not the ideal world in which Ferdinand Hodler was born on March 14, 1853. He has only a vague memory of his father, the carpenter's profession. "I have never seen him laugh, and his sometimes almost malevolent, careless thinking was not for happiness," says Hodler to his biographer and friend Carl Albert Loosla. The Hodler family moves from Bern to La Chaux-de-Fonds, where father Johannes Hodler establishes the company and goes bankrupt. "He suffered from consumption and was often unable to work." Today tuberculosis is the name of tuberculosis and was formerly called the "white plague" or "illness of the proletariat" to which the painter belongs. "Lumpenprolet," the late Hodler once called the early Hodler.

"In the end, I felt that there was always a dead man at home and that was how it had to be."Ferdinand Hodler in his biography

When his father dies, Ferdinand is only seven years old, the oldest of five children. Sixth child died before father, also due to tuberculosis. Mother will get married again: Gottlieb Schüpbach, who is fourteen years old, who in turn brings five children to marriage. The pair testifies to three others, so that a lot of people grow together. He lives in the Berna slums, Quartier Matte in Aare, with many deaths of tuberculosis every year. Finally, Ferdinand Hodler also has happy memories. "I am still happy when I think that as a boy, like today's poor children, I moved to Grauholz or to Muriwald or to Bremgartenwald for collecting dry firewood."

Then mother will fall ill. Tuberculosis again. Ferdinand sleeps in the same room, hears her suffering at night and screams. At noon, he falls on the Allmend Thun field. The children are there when the body is loaded and taken home. Ferdinand, who is fourteen years old, is experiencing a traumatic funeral: "At that time, we were poorly poor." On a common wagon, a crude coffin was taken to the cemetery, and we croned the children, my brothers and my sister and myself, this image was sharp and faithful for my whole life. "

In short, he sums up his childhood with Loosla's biographer: "It was a general dying in the family, after all it seemed to me that there was always a dead man in the house and that it had to be." He felt that the change from pulsation to frozen in her mother's skin was evidence of Stéphanie Guerzoni, with his own hands he had to catch, raise his dying mother for a stroller, even if the "only" would be a legend that does not take place in the National Fund's research, it would be a matter for the psychoanalyst.

Dazed by the landscape

Gottlieb Schüpbach, a widower for the second time, goes to the USA, to Boston, to his eldest son. He sends his eldest son, Ferdinand Hodler, to a friend of the veduta in Thun. "In the end, I got to know the practical and elaborate work very well and did it with great pleasure," says Hodler later. "I remember that for some time I traded with a tinsmith who found furniture and utensils as best as I could." Dazed by the landscape, he forgets about physical suffering: "The powerful strength of the Stockhorn chain, sneezing, shining high mountains bound me so much that I did not even think about food and drink.»
He always returns to Lake Thun all his life; The Stockhorn necklace is painted seventeen times by Ferdinand Hodler himself during his 60th year. The photo from the Stockhorn series was under the hammer on the last holidays: at the Sotheby & # 39; s auction house in Zurich for 4.3 million francs.

He returned many times to Lake Thun: a work from the Stockhorn series by Ferdinand Hodler. Photo: Keystone

In May 1912 his lover, Valentine Godé-Darel, recovered in Hilterfingen at Lake Thun. He becomes weaker and weaker after giving birth to his daughter Paulette. Hodler fears tuberculosis – it is an advanced stage of cancer. Fresh father draws and paints in illusion – a thousand times beloved Valentine.

During the training in Vedutenmaler, Hodler produces postcards for tourists. Unfortunately, he is not allowed to paint mountains in the way they perceive them. He must paint them from the instructor's templates. Suddenly he breaks off his job and flees to Langusthal to Schuster Neukomm, his mother's brother, where his siblings found shelter and whom he would call "the evil uncle." For a long time he can not stand it, he goes to Geneva, he helps here, sometimes on a farm, he lives slim, he exchanges his last coins for brushes and paints and he strives for higher education in Geneva. He enrolls at the university as a listener. The father of the school friend Langenthaler instructed him to knock on Professor Carl Vogt, the zoologist and geologist.

So he saw Upper Engadin: oil painting by Hodler "Silvaplanersee" from 1907. Photo: Keystone

Vogt, a supporter of Darwinism, turns out to be a reformer of pedagogy. With him, every student must choose. Scientifically accurate and also "to your heart". During the analysis in the laboratory, Hodler gets to know the deepest secret of the muscle: it can be read only on the dead man, Hodler later says – "as if you had to turn off the machine first to capture your internal equipment".

Warrior, lumberjack, lawn mower

Hodler never gets rid of human muscles all his life: warriors, woodcutters, mowers – these are his heroes that every Swiss man wants to get: Hodler mowers adorn half a century of blue hundred dollar bills, Hodler's "Lumberjack" from the 1950s. As the picture is a lumberjack in at least fifteen versions. A particularly large copy of the format has come to the office of two such different federal councilors as Christoph Blocher and Moritz Leuenberger.

For the hundredth anniversary of Hodler's death, Blocher did not damn and sponsored the issue of the cultural magazine "Du". In the short text, the open Federal Council writes about Hodler's painting and asks: "Are these mountains already here?" Blocher's answer: "At least not only mountains, but personalities: determined, strong, determined, defiant and immovable, superficial and flighty, as I imagine a good father, talented entrepreneur, creative politician: suddenly mountains become symbols.»

Today Hodler is captured. As a patriot, an alpine veteran against all that threatens the local. At that time, Hodler experienced the opposite. At home his work is initially considered "ugly" and later ridiculed for political reasons. Too much realism in Switzerland: Hodler paints the shoemaker Neukomm as a shoemaker, a dead lover like a dead, poor soul like a weapon, the battlefield of Marignano as a battlefield. With him there is no idealization, no transfiguration, no embellishment.

"Hodler's biographer, Carl Albert Loosli, is one of the best Swiss literatures."Hansjörg Schneider, criminal writer

Art historian from Zurich Konrad Farner, a self-proclaimed communist, praised in a small writing above all the image of "carpenters" from Hodler's early work: "The best image of a Swiss artisan art – symbolic and very conscious at the same time. »The proof of this is the white lettering on the left above the carpenter's head on the wooden wall:« Section menuisier, 8 juin 1875 »: date of its joining the union. As Farner Blocher, he appoints Hodler as "a man of the people."

Hodler's biographer, Carl Albert Loosli, also comes from below: "A writer who survived the administrative role of a student in the educational home in Trachselwald / Emmental and fought for all his life with the administrative storage of the criminal from Basel, Hansjörg Schneider." Something of the best that Swiss literature has to offer. "

Nerd and the proletarian

Loosli, then a journalist and journalist, meets Hodler and then 44, for the first time in the Berne restaurants «Kornhauskeller». The theme is the dispute over Hodler's mural "Retreat from Marignano" in the Landesmuseum Zürich. Both meet again and again, and Hodler would guess that what he tells the journalist and soon to his friend will "make the legend last".

The audience stops before the "student" and bursts out laughing.

Thanks to Loosla's biography, we know that young Hodler gets permission from Professor Vogt to join the first public art museum in Switzerland, Musée Rath in Geneva, with his easels directly in front of the works of two Geneva masters, Alexandre Calame and François Diday. Draws a line by line. Sometimes Barthélemy Menn looks over her shoulder, a teacher at the Geneva Art School. "Menn was always friendly and always gave me valuable advice." He generously generates the talented Hodler into his school and allows him to draw, draw, draw.

Hodler was allowed to remain in the noble school of Menna for five years, united with the sons of the family, "les fils à papa," who call him "nerd," calling himself a "proletarian" who has no money for models. It starts with a self-portrait. The "student" is exhibited in the spring of 1876, even considered – but declared "ugly" in the "Journal de Genève" on April 12, 1876. The audience stops before the "student" and bursts out laughing. The 23-year-old author should "go to school to learn" beautiful yet "- if he does not want to afford the" luxury "of starving, he writes a bourgeois journalist in a bourgeois newspaper.

Hodler, who in his youth studied in the Matte Quarter in Bern, what hunger and suffering is, he still paints. And when the second Geneva paper, Le Genevois, entitled "Le laid et le sale" (The Ugly and the Dirty) March 13, 1877, He draws a lesson: "I whistle on everything that worries me is said and written." Why is he so confident? Because he was already celebrating his first great success: in 1874 he won the prestigious Calame Prize for landscape painting "Waldinneres" ("Le Nant de Frontenex"). He does not spoil the prize of 300 francs, he needs it four years later when he escaped to Madrid.

"She fought with herself, beaten, bit me".Ferdinand Hodler, quoted after Hans Mühlestein

The immediate cause of the departure is the case of Mademoiselle Caroline Lechaud, whom Ferdinand Hodler confesses to Berlin Berlin journalist and art historian Hans Mühlestein forty years later. Caroline Lechaud is the first Hodler model. A daughter "from a good family of citizens" who does not have to ask for money for modeling, which he would not have anyway. "I was in such a mess then." Fearing their noble parents, the two are seen only in secret.

In the words of Hodler, quoted in Mühlestein, "she has always been a nice torture to me when she sat with me, I could not bear it so often, but she did not want to know anything about the world, it was too hot for me, I discarded the brush and the palette and took in her arms. "

The so-called Miss reacts with full force: "She fought, beaten, bit me, and she is nervous about it, I never saw her again." This story also tells about the Hodler itself, it has become a legend. In the study of the National Foundation, Caroline Lechaud is only mentioned: as Hodler's "first" and "secret fiancée".

In the company of poor devils

Today "Portrait of Caroline Lechaud" belongs to the collection at the Kunsthaus Zürich. 23-year-old grandmother Hodler succeeded as a painter to capture the Sunday dressed young lady in all her purity. Masterpiece.

In Madrid, Hodler does not play artistically. After returning to Geneva, he will exhibit in an empty boutique in the outhouse, for a 20-month admission. The answer is difficult. The Tribune de Genève of April 23, 1880, finds a "bit of vulgarity" in every painting. "Le Genevois" places a "poorly led student who thinks that his spelling mistakes are original." Now he lands in the "proletarian milieu", as often and proudly tells. "At that time, I lived almost exclusively in a society of poor devils, failed lives from the deepest layers." He freed the drunk from the slime on the street, and also personally knows all the men and women who model him. "I was attracted by the unfortunate and me."

He does not have a bed. "For three years in the evening I hung the wardrobe door to sleep," the floor in his box was so wet and bumpy. He covered Loosla, Mühlestein and Guerzoni with an unbeatable canvas. Or maybe it's a legend? For the authors of the National Fund research already. "Try to cover yourself with canvas", Oskar Bätschmann and Paul Müller encourage journalists at a press conference.

Hodler joins the Grand Rue, 35, next to the St. Piotr, to the studio with a lovely roof terrace. How can he afford it? "I always paid for my debts with images" – the artist answers these questions.

In the new studio, images are created that already trigger emotions with their titles. "Disappointed souls": five men, dressed in black, with beards and furrows on their faces, sitting, looking down, on a bench in a meadow. "Tired of life": Five men in white robes with beards and furrows on their faces, looking down, on a bench in the cemetery.

"Vagabonding" becomes Hodler's piano, and "The Night" his masterpiece, with which he caused the first scandal in 1891, at the age of 38: The picture shows nine sleeping in a rocky landscape. Not everyone is dressed from head to toe. The man in the middle, no doubt Ferdinand Hodler himself, wakes up in shock. A black, masked figure depicting death above him. At the back of the picture frame is Hodler's handwritten letter: "Plus d & # 39; un qui s & # 39; est couché tranquillement le soir ne séveilleillier pas le lendemain matin".

Two women are clearly identifiable. The woman to the left of Hodler is his lover Augustine Dupin. He has known her for three years and has been painting for three years. October 1, 1887. She gave birth to her child, Hector. Father Hodler falls in love with Bercie Stucki, whom he married on June 18, 1889, during the hectic work on the Night. Bertha Stucki immediately slides into the image of "Night", lying to the right of him.

Thanks to this work, Hodler made the first scandal: "Night" 1889/90. Video: Kunstmuseum Bern

"Night" is hung in Musée Rath in Geneva – and taken the next morning. "In violation of morality," "demoralized," assesses the mayor Théodore Turrettini. Protests in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, polemics in newspapers, angry letters to the artist, which Loosli collects: "Illustrations of permitted and unauthorized love", "Glorification of nothingness, nirvana", "Representation of evil conscience".

Hodler remains sober: "If I were an impartial observer, I would first ask myself," What do I see? "His answer:" Nine characters, six of which are paired, and three are united in the group, and in the middle of the figure, is oppressed by another. It's all mine that's what I wanted to paint and I painted it as well as I understood and I could. Punktum ".

As an artist, he does not complain, he uses the noise of the press and limits his image in the Bétiment électoral, a small private room next to the large Musée Rath. One franc asks for an entry. 1200 people poured Bâtiment in three weeks, thanks to which 1,200 francs Hodler reached the destination of Paris. "The Swiss do not want to understand me until they understand that I am understood elsewhere." At the "Major Events in Paris" exhibition, the most important exhibition in Paris "Noc" is presented in the Hall of Honor.

They rebuked him with "bloodthirsty"

Another scandal appears in Zurich ten years later. During the opening of the National Museum in 1898. A contest for monumental frescoes in the great weapons hall takes place. Hodler, in the meanwhile 45 years, hires a barn near Bern, which is large enough to be able to make cardboard patterns on a 1: 1 scale. Giant noise. Summer passes, nights are cooler, but "as long as I work, I do not feel cold," says the legend. One morning, the colors freeze. Nevertheless, Hodler's project "Retreat from Marignano" will be selected by the jury in January 1897.

Then it starts. The director of the National Museum, Heinrich Angst, protests with an article in the NZZ, rebel rebels surrounded by academic teachers, Zurich city councils are mobilized, advertisements are placed in newspapers, the Federal Council intervenes, Hodler must present the second project in public, and eight thousand visitors flock within Seven days to Zurich, the Federal Council reaches four, in the end the new State Museum is federal.

Hodler never gets rid of human muscles all his life: "Wilhelm Tell" by Hodler from 1897, which is currently exhibited at the Kunstmuseum in Bern. Photo: Keystone

The curse is the artistic correctness of Hodler. He paints like blood splashes and is punished for "blood throats". He wants to show the warriors faces, faces of peasants, servants who went to war – not for freedom, but for money. The Confederates were mercenaries, thousands in the service of the Duchy of Milan in a defensive battle against the French, as well as thousands of Swiss mercenaries.

Hodler is not a patriotic painter. He spreads legends about himself, but there are no myths about Switzerland. This is also evidenced by the controversy surrounding Wilhelm Tell's image: "I," says Hodler's great attorney and Loosla's biographer, "I can not imagine Tell, Sennen and Gemsjäger as Schiller for him. Describes goals." Tell Hodler "was a shaggy mountain man with a cow's scent. dumb. "He wore angry drawings of Hodler's self-portraits, and Tell, how he created Hodler, with every performance in the open air.

He does not become politically active, he barely reads the newspaper, but he still has beliefs. In 1917, when the revolution broke out in Russia, he said to Stéphanie Guerzoni: "This is a huge event of this age." For comparison, war is of no great significance. "Wars have always existed and are quickly forgotten." This revolution is the beginning of a new era on a completely new basis. of great importance. "

Only equal rights between men and women remain alien to him.

Hodler, an international star for a long time, is being rushed everywhere. At the exhibition in Berlin in 1914. During the opening ceremony he meets Emperor Wilhelm II. Hodler has a rosette of the French Legion of Honor in the buttonhole. The emperor's eyes flashed. His face became hard and his attitude was cold. He greeted and left, says the painter Stéphanie Guerzoni.

Documented: Hodler signed after firing the cathedral of Reims in September 1914, Along with 120 other cultural workers and intellectuals, a resolution containing the word "barbarians". Therefore, he is excluded in Germany from all artistic associations. "I keep my expression straight," says Hodler to Loosla. However, he never thought that "barbarians" means the entire German nation. "It was only for people who were responsible for probing the dome they ordered and made." Such questions reveal the influence of his second biographer. Journalist Hans Mühlestein transformed himself into a socialist pacifist, exiled from Prussia in 1919. Later, the leftist art critic Konrad Farner confirms: "Hodler was a democrat throughout, always on the side of the weak."

Only equal rights between men and women are alien to him. In 1910, Hodler became the main president of the Association of Swiss Painters, Sculptors and Architects (GSMBA). Carl Albert Loosli is the secretary. It is debated whether artists should be included in the association. Hodler ended the discussion with the words: "Mer wei kener Wiiber".

In the new edition of the National Fund, a handwritten, hard-to-read original text by Hodler is presented in French: "The emancipation of women by a woman is one of the most fun jokes that have been produced under the sun." Hans Mühlestein states: "A woman was for Hodler is rarely more than a model, an object of desire or resources for social purposes." At the height of success, Hodler could boast of hundreds of times "in dramatic detail" how he could have any woman who She wanted.

However, in an emergency, a woman must bite him. Even in this respect, the repetitive artist becomes a repetitive criminal and a re-victim. Long after his experience with Caroline Lechaud, when he is already the father of two children, he wishes the German painter Charlotte Berend-Corinth "son". Then he kisses her – and "I bite my lip deeply," writes Charlotte Berend-Corinth in her autobiography. He jumped back and fixed me. His question fell silently: "Do you want me to forget you?" I nodded.

How does an aging Hodler deal with his death? He does what he has done all his life, he paints one self-portrait after another. "At least one will not be able to tell me that I did not know this jerk and I honestly painted it." In 1916, ten self-portraits were added, in 1917. Six more, in 1918 his last. When he closes his eyes on May 19 this year, his friend Cuno Amiet visits him and does what Hodler himself did to two dead lovers. Amiet: "I painted him, he was lying in a coffin."

Until 13 January at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Hodler's comprehensive exhibition with almost a hundred paintings of the painter is held.

(The magazine)

Created on: 13/11/2018, 15:03 clock

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