Ferdinand Hodler’s emotionally loaded landscapes and ritualized portraits were among the earliest harbingers of Expressionist painting in Europe, and a key bridge between the idioms of late-nineteenth-century Symbolism, Realism and modernist Expressionism. Published for a major 2012 exhibition at New York’s Neue Galerie, this volume gathers a selection of Hodler’s best-loved work: his famous late paintings, in which figures are heavily stylized and landscapes are pared down to simple effects of mood and color; his outstanding works on paper; and the much-acclaimed, extremely moving series of works chronicling the illness and early death of the artist’s lover, Valentine Godé-Darel. A documentary section reproduces letters, sketchbooks and photographs that illuminate the relationship between Hodler and Godé-Darel. Central to this publication is the role that series and variations play throughout Hodler’s oeuvre--most famously in his groups of figures arranged in ritualized poses, a style to which he gave the name “Parallelism.” This volume reveals Hodler both as a painter of great emotional intensity and as a crucial progenitor of the Expressionist worldview.
Ferdinand Hodler (1835–1918) was born in Bern, Switzerland. By the time Hodler was eight years old, he had lost his father and two younger brothers to tuberculosis; his mother and remaining siblings would also succumb to the disease, instilling in the artist a heightened sense of mortality. The Vienna Secession’s 1903 exhibition of his work, for which Josef Hofmann built the galleries, was decisive for Expressionist painters such as Emil Nolde and particularly Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who later made a woodcut portrait of Hodler in homage to his influence.
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