Caspar David Friedrich – The Monk by the Sea (1808 – 1810)

“I am not so weak as to submit to the demands of the age when they go against my convictions,” a defiant Caspar David Friedrich declared as his art and the Romantic ideals of the early nineteenth century were falling out of favor towards the end of his life. “I spin a cocoon around myself;…

Lawren Harris on Creativity and Despair

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change” — Mary Shelley Fewer things are harder than to change one’s self, one’s mind. Neuroscientists would blame it on the loss of brain plasticity that comes with aging. Behaviorists blame the habits themselves, ingrained in our everyday actions and thought patterns….

Lin Fengmian’s Wild Geese

“You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert repenting”, is how Mary Oliver starts off Wild Geese, a short, heart-warming poem about coming home to oneself, the same way wild geese return to their nesting grounds after long…

Tom Thomson – Summer Day (1915)

Let’s play a game. Let’s grab a patch of raw green grass, spread our limbs on it like starfish, stretch our vision to hold the blue of the sky, and tag the clouds above our heads. Does that one look like an elephant taking a bath? And if you’re too shy or too busy to…

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka – Castellammare di Stabia (1902)

Today his name is largely unknown outside of Hungary, but Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka was actually rather good at promoting himself. In fact, if he were still alive today, he’d probably write a self-help book based on his life: “How to be an Artist – the Long and Winding Road”. Here’s the blueprint: ~ Have your…

Arnold Böcklin – The Isle of the Dead III (1883)

At the beginning of the 20th century you could find a reproduction of The Isle of the Dead in almost every middle class household in Germany. Sigmund Freud certainly had one at his office. Even the Russians weren’t immune. Lenin was fascinated by it. After seeing a black-and-white reproduction of the artwork, Sergei Rachmaninoff composed…