One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us
is teach us how to suffer.
It can do so by evoking scenes
that are dark melancholy or painful
and that normalize and lend dignity to the feelings of suffering
that we might otherwise be experiencing in isolation or confusion.
They reveal with grandeur and technical skill
that grief belongs to the human condition.
Caspar David Friedrich a painter of sublime sadness
was born in 1774 in Greifswald,
an ancient trading town in the far north of Germany on the Baltic coast.
It was a beautiful place in a severe northern sort of way.
As a child he loved the way the pinnacles spires and towers at the town
loomed above the trees in the haze of the very early summer mornings.
His father was a modest artisan of few words and little warmth
and his beloved mother died when he was only young.
When he was 13 he saw his younger brother Johann Christopher
fall through the ice of a frozen lake and drown.
He grew up shy taciturn and intense.
他长成了一个害羞 沉默 感情强烈的男子
He was trained as a painter from an early age,
but there were many years of poverty and hardship
before his distinctive style began to emerge.
The taste of the era favored sunny classical landscapes.
Summer in Italy was the ideal.
But Friedrich was drawn to aspects of nature that
up to that point people thought of as uninteresting and disagreeable
cold, damp mornings, glacial nights by the sea
the pale hour before the sun rises, the flooded fields of late spring.
Frederich’s first mature work, his first big picture
where he started to present his own view of life
was a shock to his contemporaries.
Instead of the conventional angels,
weeping saints and soldiers
he depicted the crucifixion of Jesus
is happening on top of a mountainous crag amidst Teutonic fir trees
with the sun’s rays striking the clouds behind.
Friedrich realized then
that nature could express many of the solemn moods
that had previously been associated with the literal rendition of the Christian story.
而先前 提及庄重 人们联想到的是圣经故事的文字诠释
With time he dispensed with direct references to Jesus all together.
But he retained the atmosphere of tragedy and grief associated with his life and death.
He found that tall trees mountains, mists,
他发现 大树 高山 薄雾
the rising of the moon, the stillness of water at night, open heathland, and fog
月儿升起 夜晚静谧的水面 空旷荒原 茫茫雾霭
could carry many the same messages about pain, love, suffering and redemption
它们可以传达很多关于痛苦 爱 苦难 和救赎的启示
as the Christian theologians once found in the Gospels.
He remains a painter uniquely suited to those who no longer believe
but who remain attracted
to the serious emotions that accompany belief.
In 1818 when he was 43
Caspar David married 25 year old Christian Caroline Bommer
they had two daughters, Emma
and Agnes Adelheid and a son Gustav Adolf.
And it seems on the whole to have been a pretty good relationship.
Caroline appears in many of his pictures
although usually alone.
Friedrich was drawn to painting people on their own
as if what is most important about us only comes to the surface
when we are away from the chatter of civilization.
He himself only had a handful of friends and rarely left his simply furnished studio.
Instead of solitude being something that we need to evade with business,
drink, or sexual fantasies
Friedrich suggests it is something that brings us into contact with our deepest possibilities.
He also believes
that harshness of nature
could put the sorrow of the human condition into a consoling and redeeming perspective.
Humans can be cruel, fate can be remorseless,
but contemplating the ineluctable collision of icepacks takes us out of ourselve,
beyond the particular envy, wound, or disappointment that is tormenting us
我们可以摆脱折磨自己的那些嫉妒 伤痛 或失望
reducing our sense of personal persecution.
Works like moonrise over the sea
make us aware of our insignificance in the vast natural world
exciting a sense of the pettiness of man’s disasters
in comparison with the waves of eternity,
leaving us a little readier to bow to
the incomprehensible tragedies that every life entails.
From here ordinary irritations and worries are neutralized.
Rather than try to redress our humiliations by insisting on our wronged importance
we can, by the help of a great art work,
endeavor to apprehend and appreciate our essential nothingness.
Friedrich uses this striking jagged rock formation, a spare stretch of coast,
the bright horizon far away clouds and pale sky
to induce us into a mood of redemptive sadness.
The smaller islands of rock
were once just as dramatic and thrusting as the major rock formations just beyond,
the long slow passage of time will one day wear them down as well,
above them are clouds which catch light on their undersides
and pass on in their transient pointless way
totally indifferent to all of our concerns.
The picture does not refer directly to our relationships
or to the stresses and tribulations of our day-to-day lives.
Its function is to give us access to a state of mind
where we are acutely conscious of the largeness of space and time
and the insignificance of our situation within the greater scheme.
The work is sombre rather than sad, calm but not despairing.
这一作品 哀而不伤 平静而非绝望
In that condition of mind
or to put it more romantically state of soul
we are left as so often with Friedrich’s work better equipped
to deal with the intractable intense and particular griefs that lie ahead of us.
来应对挡在我们面前的 棘手 强烈 极度的悲痛
Like many artists
Friedrich was not terribly successful during his own lifetime.
He was admired and his work purchased by a small group of serious people
and two of the most delightful painters of the era Kersting and Dahl were his friends
he died in his mid-60s in 1840 almost forgotten.
他活到60多岁 于1840年去世 几乎被人遗忘
He did not know that,
in the distant future his work would be deeply admired.
Not because it cheers us
but precisely because it knows how to reframe and express
the sadness that is part of all of us.