Publication details

„Noční život duše“ v tvorbě malířů Gabriela von Maxe a Alberta von Kellera

Title in English "The Nocturnal Life of the Soul" in the Work of the Painters Gabriel von Max and Albert von Keller


Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Světlo, stíny a tma v české kultuře 19. století. Sborník příspěvků z 37. ročníku mezioborového sympozia k problematice 19. století, Plzeň, 23.-25. února 2017.
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Gabriel von Max; Albert von Keller; occultism in the visual arts; iconography of salon painting
Description In the 19th century various forms of practising occult teachings enjoyed great popularity. This applied in particular to mesmerism, spiritism and parapsychology. Although they were often regarded as charlatanism, deception, or diabolical practices, some scholars and artists inclined towards them. In Munich this included a number of prominent visual artists, but only two of them, Gabriel von Max and Albert von Keller, used occultism as a direct long-term source of inspiration for their work. These artists enhanced Central European salon painting by the addition of occult themes, which can be examined in three areas: as part of (1) biblical subject-matter, (2) mediumism, and (3) paintings of female visionaries. While Keller focused on striking scenes of excitation, often with a crowd of observers, and thus on narrative spectacles, Max andeavoured to capture the expression of profound spiritual concentration of his heroines. There is concrete evidence of the influence of his iconographic innovation on Czech art, but the most enduring inspirational factor at the end of the "long 19th century" would seem to be the widespread idea, of which Max was a pioneer, of the importance of exceptional spiritual abilities anticipating the future direction taken by the human race (by the philosopher Carl du Prel characterised as "the nocturnal life of the soul"), and their affinity with the visual arts.
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