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Caspar David Friedrich and the aesthetics of community.

IN 1826, GOETHE DESCRIBED AN ACQUAINTANCE OF HIS AS SUFFERING FROM the "universal illness of the current time, subjectivity." (1) He equated this "disease" with Romanticism, declaring the turn inward as a retrograde force in history and a threat to great art. A consideration of Friedrich Kersting's famous portrait of Caspar David Friedrich in his atelier (fig. 1) leads to precisely such an understanding of the Romantic subject. The artist is represented alone in his Dresden studio, deeply absorbed in his work. The room is conspicuously empty; only an easel, chair, a few palettes, and the artist himself occupy the space. The lack of props or sketches from which Friedrich works strongly evokes his often-cited aphorism, "The artist should not merely paint what he sees before him but also what he sees within him." (2) This inward-oriented approach to painting has implications for the viewer's experience as well. The artist's canvas is turned away from the viewer, so that each individual is left to imagine the content of Friedrich's painting. This work leaves us with an image of the Romantic artist as an isolated genius and viewership is represented as an equally withdrawn and solitary activity.

The idea that subjective feeling is central to both the production and reception of Friedrich's art has led to the repeated use of the term Sinnoffenheit (open-ended meaning) to characterize his landscapes. This emphasis on subjectivity naturally resists any form of shared experience between viewer and artist, or among viewers themselves. Accordingly, Friedrich's work is often contrasted with the collective aspirations of Philipp Otto Runge and the Nazarenes. In practice, however, Romantic subjectivity cannot be reduced to an unequivocal retreat from others and the world. As Hilmar Frank notes, art in the Romantic period begins to function as a "problematization of being, as an investigation into and expression of [the subject's] forever evolving relation to the world." (3) Implicit in the exploration of Dasein (being), though, is necessarily also the question of Mitsein (being-with). To use Jean-Luc Nancy's words, "Being cannot be anything but being-with-one-another, circulating in the with and as the with of this singularly plural coexistence." (4) This ontological truth has become fashion (3). able in recent years, prompting revisionary scholarship on much of the German Idealist tradition. Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, for instance, have all been the subject of recent publications on community or intersubjectivity. (5)

Prompted by the recent discourse surrounding intersubjectivity, I will question whether there is any evocation of community in the work of Caspar David Friedrich, an artist whose conscious self-fashioning as a recluse strongly suggests otherwise. (6) Has the apparent subjectivity or inwardness of Romantic art caused the question of intersubjectivity to go unduly neglected in Friedrich's landscapes? To answer this question I will begin by reconsidering the foundation of Romantic artist communities and their possible relationship to the Kantian sensus communis. In Kant's thought, aesthetic judgment is a sense common to everyone. Thus, it has the potential to build a moral community based on a mutual experience of the free play of imagination and understanding, or an "ineffable reciprocity of feeling," to use Terry Eagleton's words. (7) Within this conceptual framework of community, I will examine the open structure of Friedrich's landscapes, focusing specifically on the extension of Kant's aesthetics to theories of landscape depiction in the late eighteenth century. As we shall see, in Friedrich's system, the work of art functions to unite subjects spiritually through profoundly personal aesthetic experiences in a true community of feeling.

Romantic Communities of Feeling and the Aesthetic

Friedrich is famous for capturing a melancholic solitude through images of lone wanderers at rest in sublime landscapes. But these figures just as often come in pairs, which complicates the sense of absolute isolation often read into these paintings. In Two Men by the Sea (fig. 2), Friedrich depicts two figures seen from behind standing side by side on a barren rocky coast. Their motionless silhouettes gaze independently into a cloudy vortex of sea and sky. But as much as these men are together, they seem to be alone. Their eyes do not meet, nor do they engage in an intimate embrace. (8) The only sense of community or collectivity that their shared experience of nature evokes is one of "being singular plural," to borrow the title of Nancy's radical program for a community of tomorrow. For Nancy, nothing exists without the with. Existence has no meaning beyond the sharing of Being. But Being-with involves no objective access to others. Everything "passes between us," says Nancy, where the "between" neglects to serve as a bridge from one to another. Nancy describes our basic relationship to others as one of "contiguity" rather than "continuity." Furthermore, this provocative concept of community involves no a priori connectivity among subjects. Each individual constitutes his or her own origin, so that "the world has no other origin than this singular multiplicity of origins." (9) In Friedrich's painting, the men stand at the summit of their own individual rocks, as if born into parallel universes that, while adjacent, will never actually touch. They are their own origin and their own end. Only empty space passes between them, but this between seems to define them and their relationship to each other.

The singular plural existence of Friedrich's figures is telling for any investigation into Romantic attitudes toward collective living and collaboration, yet it is ultimately at odds with Nancy's non-identitarian, non-substantialist concept of community. Friedrich was foremost a Christian artist and a staunch nationalist, sentiments that both make their way into his painting. Two Men by the Sea was painted just after Napoleon's capitulation and the end of the French occupation of German territories, and the matching old German costume of the figures highlights the value Friedrich placed on national unity. Their captivated gaze also signals the same metaphysical reverence for nature that underlies Romantic nature philosophy. So what is the relationship between these two singular individuals staring at the sea, and what kind of community, if any, does this image evoke?

The Romantic period witnessed a renewed interest in communal social structures. Novalis, for instance, declared, "Flight from the communal spirit is death." (10) Friedrich Schlegel similarly bemoaned modern man's lost sense of community, calling for the establishment of a "community of morals." (11) These sentiments spawned a concept of community intent on reconciling individual liberty with participation in group life. Schlegel best articulated the nuances of the Romantic sense of community in his Transcendental Philosophy (1800-1801). He explained that society is "unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity," where the foundation of community must lie in the "concept of equality." (12) But Schlegel was careful to specify that "[h]ere we speak not of physical but moral equality." (13) Schlegel's ideal of community is not structured around a common purpose, nor does it depend on any instrumental relationship to others. His system is one of social sovereignty, where a plurality of singular individuals is united under the principle of moral equality. (14)

This model of social sovereignty proved influential for the subsequent establishment of artist communities and collaborative art projects in Germany. (15) The Nazarenes, for instance, were unsatisfied with the Vienna Academy's mimetic teaching methods and in 1809 they established a communal work environment in Rome that nonetheless encouraged artistic autonomy. Despite the religious orientation of the group, the only common purpose behind their artistic practice was initially the pursuit of truth. (16) Truth as a unifying principle transcended stylistic affinity, finding its source in religious feeling. The practice of art-making itself was thus intimately linked to the Nazarene sense of community, in that aesthetic reflection provided a gateway to God and spiritual unity with others. In a comparable spirit, Runge planned a collaborative artwork in 1801 that incorporated painting, poetry, choral music, and architecture. (17) In this project, all artists were to hold equal authority and each individual's contribution was to develop freely according to his or her own creative inclinations.

Runge's communal project was structured around a plurality of singular artistic visions rather than a straightforward collective purpose, where individuality was cultivated precisely through interaction with others. Yet the ideal of social sovereignty did not transcend all shared sentiment. In a letter to his brother Daniel from 1802 Runge wrote,

   We express these thoughts in words, tones or images, and arouse in
   the hearts of the people around us the same feelings. The truth of
   this feeling grasps everyone; everyone feels with us in unity.
   Everyone who feels the oneness of God praises him: and so religion
   is born. (18)

No matter how diverse the artistic visions involved or varied the mediums used, the end result of Runge's project was to be some kind of divine reciprocal feeling, shared not only by collaborators, but also by recipients. Christian Scholl has aptly characterized this intended relationship between artist and viewer as a Gefuhlsgemeinschaft, (19)

In Runge's Gefuhlsgemeinschaft, collaboration was integral to the creation of a shared aesthetic experience and the sense of community that was to follow involved actual earthly bonds. Yet even if this community of feeling was cultivated within a structure of communal life, it was premised on aesthetic reflection, which in the German Idealist tradition took place through a profoundly personal inward journey. Scholars have rightfully linked Romantic artist communities with concurrent social and political conditions and an idealization of medieval guilds and fraternities, (20) but these models do not fully account for the central place of aesthetic reflection and reciprocal spiritual feeling in these communities. I would like to propose that this inward dimension of the Romantic ideal of community finds its conceptual origin in Kant's Critique of Judgment. According to Kant, we all share an a priori ability to make universally valid aesthetic judgments, as long as our judgments rise above the empirical senses to our "higher cognitive powers." (21) Kant calls this collective faculty the sensus communis, which exists only at the level of the transcendental subject, beyond the personal tastes that are developed in the empirical subject by way of conditioning. Furthermore, the sensus communis is a "common human understanding," one that Kant insists is the "very least that we are entitled to expect from anyone who lays claim to the name of human being." (22) To ascertain that our judgments are universal, Kant insists that we must compare them with those of others.

Although this can never objectively be done, the task at hand is to compare them with the possible judgments of others, thereby abstracting them from any invested interest. (23) The sensus communis is not at the expense of autonomy, though. Kant claims that this sense demands that one simultaneously "think for oneself," "think from the standpoint of everyone else," and "think always consistently." (24) Kant makes it clear that this act of comparison takes place within us, as the free play of our cognitive faculties and, thus, an aesthetic judgment involves no actual communication with others. As such, aesthetic judgment reflects a personal event, one that cannot be literally shared.

If the sensus communis involves no other people and nothing tangible is shared, how can it serve as the basis of a community? In his reading of Kant, Jean-Francois Lyotard reflects precisely on this question: "What can a communitas be which isn't knitted into itself by a project?" (25) He explains that the pleasure we experience as the sensus communis has "no purpose in front of it and no lack behind it"; it is pleasure before desire and will, and has nothing to do with a common end. (26) Aesthetic experience can only serve as the basis for a communitas because it derives from a transcendental common ground. Lyotard posits that such a community is precognitive and exists somewhere before the subject comes into being; in other words, there is no "aesthetic transcendental I." (27) The moral or unifying dimension of the sensus communis is, thus, nothing beyond the fact that it is a shared human faculty--our mutual ability to participate in aesthetic judgment. A community based on this principle accordingly transcends any instrumental relationship to others.

Lyotard is careful to point out that this transcendental common ground exists only as a potentiality and any effort to physically establish a community of feeling is ultimately a fiction. He writes,

   This sensus isn't a sense, and the feeling which is supposed to
   affect it ... isn't common, but only in principle communicable.
   There is no assignable community of feeling, no affective consensus
   in fact. And if we claim to have recourse to one, or a fortiori to
   create one, we are victims of a transcendental illusion and we are
   encouraging impostures. (28)

Yet in the wake of Kantian aesthetics, it is no surprise that Runge and the Nazarenes endeavored to found communities of feeling structured around art, even if art is a misguided substitute for the aesthetic. (29) The soul of Romantic artist communities thus runs deeper than a sense of social sovereignty.

Their communal aspirations were not at the expense of individual autonomy and did not directly depend on agreement because they were founded on something precognitive, mediated through the aesthetic. Although the German Romantics seem to conflate the transcendental subject and God, their collectives cannot be reduced to religious affiliation. (30) Art was as central to their communities as religion itself, because aesthetic experience was understood to provide access to some universal spiritual connectivity.

To date, Friedrich's positioning relative to the Romantic concept of community has largely been overlooked. And to the best of my knowledge, no mention has been made of the sensus communis as a possible origin for the binary foundation of Romantic collectives in art and feeling. But once this door is opened, the work of a "solitary" artist such as Friedrich can be thought of in terms of community as well. In his Two Men by the Sea, companionship transcends any instrumental bond. As Flelmut BorschSupan notes, the figures' positioning on separate rocks in the foreground suggests that "they are only united by their mutual interest in infinity." (31) Their point of common ground is not a literal connection and, thus, their bond is not established in objective reality. This feeling is heightened by the division between foreground and background representing a disconnection between earthly and divine realms. Isolated from each other in the temporal world, the men seem to realize a sense of oneness with each other and the universe through their mutual contemplation of sublime nature. They belong to an inward Gefuhlsgemeinschaft, where what is shared is only in principle communicable. As Kant reminds us, the aesthetic exists within us; it is intersubjective only at the level of the transcendental subject. A true feeling of community accordingly demands no comrades, no public, and perhaps nothing shared in this world at all.

The Intersubjective Subjectivity of Landscape Depiction

In Two Men by the Sea a particular ideal of community is represented, but Friedrich's paintings also invite the viewer to join in this community of feeling, both in theory and through the landscape's structure. A closer look at the problem of Sinnoffenheit in Friedrich's landscapes

reveals how.

Friedrich's work reflects a shift away from the naturalism of late eighteenth-century landscape painting toward a more subjective interpretation of nature. This departure was motivated by a reconceptualization of the task at hand: "The artist's challenge is not the true representation of air, water, cliffs, and trees; rather, his soul, his feeling should be reflected fin the work]." (32) Landscape, as Friedrich understands it, no longer necessarily entails the faithful representation of nature. While Friedrich executed preparatory sketches en plein air throughout his career, his final compositions are to an extent visualizations of his innermost thoughts and sensations.

The inward content in Friedrich's landscapes continues to fuel debate whether any definitive meaning can be extracted from his iconography, or whether his landscapes should be understood as "offene Kunstwerke," resisting interpretation altogether. (33) The latter view is founded on the subjectivity of Romantic art and, accordingly, discounts the possibility of any intersubjective experience between artist and viewer, or among viewers themselves. However, it is precisely within the "open" structure of Friedrich's landscapes that their communal aspirations become apparent.

Particular passages in Friedrich's writings, together with the comments of his contemporaries, support an open interpretation of his landscapes. In a rare reference to his artistic intentions behind a given painting Friedrich insinuates that his iconography signals nothing more concrete than his ineffable inner thoughts. He describes his Abbey in the Oakwood (1809-10) as an expression of "[w] hat can only be seen and recognized in intuition, what will forever remain a mystery to the eternal knowledge of humankind." (34) The Russian historian Alexander I. Turgenjew's (1784-1845) reflections upon a visit to the artist's atelier in 1825 reinforce the intentional ambiguity of Friedrich's iconography. Turgenjew explains that Friedrich "generally conjures in you a simple thought or a simple but indeterminate feeling." (35) While "[o]ne can dream in his works ... one cannot definitively understand them, for they are also indeterminate in his soul." (36) Enumerating Friedrich's recurrent subjects Turgenjew continues, "everything touches the soul, enwraps [us] in dreams, everything activates fantasy, even if not intelligibly! His own words say as much: he himself says he could account for neither the thoughts, nor the image that occasions them, everyone should find his own, that is, his own thoughts in the unfamiliar representation." (37) Turgenjew emphasizes that Friedrich's viewers are to experience their own subjectivity within an image that is completely unknown to them. Friedrich himself expands on the relationship between artistic intention and viewership in his Reflections upon Viewing a Collection of Paintings from largely still Living or recently Deceased Artists (1830). Referring to an anonymous artist, he explains that "XX would not once have thought or sensed what his panegyrists believed to see [in his works]; but it is already a great privilege, and maybe the greatest for an artist, to intellectually activate, and awaken thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the viewer, and [these thoughts] need not be his own." (38) The open structure of Friedrich's landscapes clearly does not end with artistic intention. Subjective feeling is central to both the production of his work and its reception.

Friedrich's references to Sinnoffenheit are not without contradictions. On other occasions he indicates that the experience he strives to provoke in the viewer is indeed intentional. In a letter to Johannes Karl Hartwig Schulze from 1809 Friedrich writes that "[e]very truthful artwork ... must articulate a decisive meaning; moving the mind of the viewer either to happiness or to sadness, to melancholy or to cheerfulness, but not all sensations ... mixed together." (39) According to Friedrich, a successful work of art will precipitate a specific emotion in the viewer. To induce an arbitrary flood of feeling is not enough; this feeling must be negotiated by the artist and be common to all viewers. In his Reflections Friedrich further indicates that this feeling must correspond to the artist's own subjectivity. He writes, "Close your bodily eye so that you may see your picture first with your mental eye. Then bring to the light of day that which you have seen in the darkness so that it may react upon others from the outside inwards." (40) What the artist discovers within himself is what is to be transferred onto the canvas, not what he sees directly before him. It is similarly the artist's inner feeling that is to be apprehended in the process of reception rather than a concrete narrative or idea.

The open character of Friedrich's work cannot be reduced to a limitless pool of meaning. While his equivocal iconography encourages self-determination in the viewer, his emphasis on the communication of feeling suggests that there is indeed something to be shared between artist and audience. So how can a work of art be intentional without restricting the viewer's subjective engagement? A closer look at the conceptual roots of "open" landscape painting in the late eighteenth century provides a potential resolution to this problem. There are several theoretical texts from Friedrich's time that propose a new paradigm of landscape painting. Schiller's 1794 review On Matthisson's Poetry, in particular, exposes an intersubjective dimension to Friedrich's paintings. (41)

Schiller works through Kant's Critique of Judgment to pursue the question of whether natural subjects possess the Notwendigkeit (necessity) required to ensure an intersubjectively valid aesthetic experience among viewers. Following Kant's aesthetic categories, Schiller endeavors to establish landscape depiction as a form of beautiful art, one that engages the free play of the faculties, as opposed to simply an agreeable art, which appeals only to the empirical senses. At the heart of Schiller's defense of landscape depiction lies the issue of audience response. How can one create a work of art, which by nature mediates the viewer's experience, without restricting the free play of imagination and understanding? Schiller answers this question through his explanation of poetry, which he defines as the art of "generating specific feelings through the free effect of our productive imagination." (42) This definition, he explains, has two seemingly contradictory requirements: that the artist allow for our imagination to engage in free play, but that the generated effect be intentional. These requirements dissolve into one another when the poet "prescribes to our imagination no other path than that which it would itself follow in its fullest freedom and according to its own laws." (43) In order to ensure such a response, the artist must guide us by means of an innere Notwendigkeit, which demands that he raise himself above his own subjective perspective and approach his subject as a "human being in general." (44)

Schiller explains that a representation of natural scenery, such as a traditional landscape painting, must be excluded from the category of beautiful art because it does not ensure that the path taken by the audience will independently converge with the artist's imagination. The reason for this shortcoming is that the imitation of nature is centered on things rather than ideas and feelings. In other words, conventional landscapes guide us through external or empirical means rather than through innere Notwendigkeit, interfering with the viewer's free experience of a work. (45) If nonhuman subject matter lacks the innere Notwendigkeit to be appreciated universally, then how is landscape painting or poetry to be defended? Schiller's solution is to conceptualize a new form of landscape depiction that, rather than reproducing forms of the natural world, acts as a "symbol" for human ideas and emotions. Schiller expounds this form of landscape painting by drawing an analogy with music. Just as music is capable of evoking the "inner movements of the spirit through analogical outer movements," landscape painting and poetry have the potential to visually capture the "inner movements of the human heart." (46) If landscape depiction is conceptualized as "musical in effect," then it can be viewed as a "representation of our faculty of feeling" and, respectively, as an "imitation of human nature." (47) By representing the inner movements of the soul this new open form of landscape depiction will guide us through innere Notwendigkeit, ensuring that our subjective engagement with nature becomes intersubjective. (48)

Following Kant's concept of the beautiful, Schiller also draws attention to the ethical implications of open landscape depiction. He explains that by triggering the free play of the faculties, landscape painting and poetry have the capacity to provoke moral feelings. The harmonious arrangement of shapes, lines, and colors acts as a reflection of "the mind's inner harmony with itself, and of the ethical connection between actions and feelings." (49) A work that pleases our "aesthetic senses" will consequentially also appeal to our morality. For Schiller, open landscape painting and poetry are, like music, able to conjure the "aesthetic dignity of human nature" through form, or, in other words, mediate a universal experience. (50) In Schiller's theory of landscape depiction, aesthetic experience clearly remains a kind of sensus communis, which serves as the basis for the moral community of mankind.

It is not certain whether Friedrich was familiar with Schiller's On Matthisson's Poetry, but there are striking parallels between their concepts of landscape depiction. (51) Schiller's text reflects a logical extension of Kant's thoughts on natural beauty to the representation of nature, a move that Friedrich could have easily arrived at on his own or through one of Kant's other interpreters, such as Christian August Sender, Karl Fernow, or indirectly Carl Gustav Carus. First of all, both Schiller and Friedrich advocated a form of landscape depiction that gives visual form to feeling rather than simply imitating nature. A landscape painter for Schiller is one who abandons the "realm of arbitrariness" in favor of being a "true painter of the soul," (52) which strongly evokes Friedrich's already cited call for a departure from the faithful representation of "air, water, cliffs, and trees" in favor of mirroring his "soul, his feeling" in his landscapes. Like Schiller, Friedrich also insisted that the artist must not "limit the viewer's power of imagination." (53) In his Reflections Friedrich explains that the objective of painting is to "stimulate the mind and allow for the play of fantasy." (54) In spite of this freedom of reception, Friedrich also suggests that the free play of the imagination leads to intersubjective feeling, as long as the work is both created and apprehended by a person of feeling: "So prays the pious person and speaks not a word, and the Highest hears him; and so paints the artist of feeling, and the feeling person understands and apprehends it." (55) Both Schiller and Friedrich advocate a form of landscape depiction that generates particular feelings, but that does so by way of the viewer's free reception rather than through recognizable allegories. Finally, this reciprocal feeling is, like the Kantian sensus communis, essentially moral feeling, although Friedrich reconceptualizes it as every individual's spiritual membership in the Kingdom of God. In his short essay Concerning Art and the Spirit of Art Friedrich explains that God's universal moral law (the Ten Commandments) is the voice within us all, and "nobody can overcome it." (56) He demands that if you want to dedicate yourself to art, you must observe "your inner voice, for it is art in us." (57) Friedrich establishes a legible link between morality, inwardness, and art. The path inward through aesthetic reflection leads to reciprocal moral feeling. Hence, the subjectivity that comes with Friedrich's Sinnoffenheit does not imply a complete retreat from others. Open landscape painting, as Friedrich understands it, encourages a very particular concept of community, one founded on inner feeling rather than physical equality, and aesthetic experience remains the means of access.

Despite these conceptual affinities, certain aspects of Schiller's landscape theory seem to contradict the individualism that Friedrich encourages in both artist and viewer. Again, Schiller calls for the artist to transcend his personal experience of nature and approach his subjects as a human being in general. Against all individualism he writes, "Every individual person is that much less human, to the extent that he is an individual; every type of feeling is that much less necessary and essentially human, the more peculiar to a specific subject it is." (58) Passages such as these generally serve as evidence of a rupture between Enlightenment and Romantic aesthetics. Scholars often emphasize a shift in the Romantic period away from universalism toward subjectivity. Jason Gaiger, for instance, insists that the Romantic theories on art succeeding Schiller's Matthisson review "emphasize the value of each individual's own personal responses to the natural world," whereas Schiller "remains committed to the universalist ideals of his age." Gaiger maintains that the Romantic turn toward the subjective expression of the artist's inner spiritual life rendered the universalist claims of aesthetics unstable and the "vivid expression of a particular viewpoint" supplanted art's expression of universal ideals. (59)

In practice, a number of Romantic theories of art maintain that aesthetic experience is intersubjective. The analogy between art or poetry and music, for instance, is a recurrent motif in Romantic theory. In the foundational Romantic text Dialogue on Poesy (1799), Friedrich Schlegel explains that one is able to grasp both music and poetry because "a part of the poet, a spark of his creative spirit, lives in us as well and never ceases to glow with a mysterious force deep beneath the ashes of self-made unreason." (60) Schlegel describes a reciprocity of feeling between artist and viewer, but not as a straightforward oneness with the artist or an equivalent aesthetic experience. The aesthetic functions as a point of common ground precisely because it lives in each of us. Schlegel further articulates this connectivity as follows:

   Any view of poesy can be true and good if it is poesy itself.
   However, since one person's poesy must be limited, precisely
   because it is his own, so too must his view of poesy be limited.
   The spirit cannot bear this [doubleness] because it knows, without
   being aware of it, that no human being is merely a human being, but
   rather can and should be, really and in truth, all humanity as
   well. Therefore a person keeps going outside of himself, ever
   certain of finding himself again, in order to seek and find the
   completion of his innermost being in the depths of a stranger. (61)

Schlegel explains that each individual will experience poesy differently and all these unique interpretations of a work are valid. However, this singular experience is left wanting because it estranges us from others. The most profound aesthetic experience will thus be both singular and universal in that a part of our spirit, without threatening our autonomy, belongs to the community of humankind. Schlegel seems to suggest that the subject's endless struggle is to overcome the empirical self and approach the transcendental spirit where all subjects become one.

Schlegel was not a close acquaintance of Friedrich's, but similar ideas circulated in the painter's immediate intellectual circle. Friedrich's friend Carl Gustav Cams, a physician, scientist, and amateur artist, wrote a series of theoretical letters on landscape painting between 1815 and 1824. In the second letter Carus explains that landscape painting affects us beyond the mere sensation of the objects reproduced in so far as it is "a creation of the human mind, which, by truthfully manifesting its thoughts ... elevates a kindred spirit above the common ground." (62) Carus views landscape as a medium through which to reflect the human condition, rather than simply to reproduce nature, and when a work successfully captures the artist's thoughts, it raises us above that individual's subjectivity in a collective experience. Later in his second letter Carus describes a hypothetical encounter with a sublime landscape to elucidate the nature of this "kindred spirit":

   Climb to the topmost mountain peak, gaze out across long chains of
   hills, and observe the rivers in their courses and all the
   magnificence that offers itself to your eye---what feeling takes
   hold of you? There is a silent reverence within you; you lose
   yourself in boundless space; silently, your whole being is purified
   and cleansed; your I vanishes. You are nothing; God is all. (63)

Carus explains that through a profound aesthetic experience of nature, we transcend our ego and enter the universal community of God. In other words, the subject is lifted out of its empirical self and transported into the transcendental realm. In Carus's text, as in Romantic thought in general, the universal connectivity of humankind is reoriented toward spirituality. No matter what this common ground is called, it is similarly something higher than earthly existence, as mediated by the aesthetic.

Carus's second letter on landscape painting was written just after Friedrich painted his famous Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818, Kunsthalle, Hamburg) and can easily stand in for the lone man's thoughts as he gazes over the misty mountainous abyss. This enigmatic figure seen from behind persisted as one of Friedrich's most recurrent pictorial motifs. Could the Ruckenfigur, whose identity remains willfully concealed, reflect both the artist's and viewer's response to nature "not as this or that particular individual ... but as a human being in general?" (64) Could the Ruckenfigur ensure the universality of individual aesthetic experience, silently guiding the free play of our imagination and understanding? Do we lose ourselves in this figure, transcending the "realm of arbitrariness" (65) to enter a true community of feeling?

In the Ruckenfigur We Are One

Friedrich's Ruckenfiguren are often used to substantiate the "open" structure of his work and the importance of subjectivity for its creation and reception. This connection rests on the interpretation of the Ruckenfigur as a point of entry for the spectator. (66) The figure does not necessarily represent a specific person, but rather invites the viewer to engage individually with the landscape. Responses contemporary to Friedrich's Monk by the Sea (fig. 3) support this perspective. In 1809 Christian August Sender wrote of the lone figure: "one feels oneself drawn in, to reflect with him; everyone lends him perhaps different thoughts, because everyone takes a different spiritual perspective ... that is determined by his individuality." (67) Sender explains the Ruckenfigur as an intentional point of entry that, at the same time, allows for the free play of each spectator's faculties. This characterization of Friedrich's painting strongly evokes the intentionality without intention of Schiller's "open" concept of landscape depiction. Furthermore, Sender sees this free play as taking place within the subject, wholly removed from the painting itself. He explains that Friedrich's images pull "everyone, who does not simply hang onto the material world, almost automatically from the visible to the invisible, from the bodily to the spiritual world, from the finite to the infinite." (68) Sender sees in Friedrich's work a move away from the arbitrary sensual pleasure of agreeable art to the free play of the cognitive faculties associated with beautiful or universal art. And it is through the intentional guidance of the Ruckenfigur that the artist precipitates this move inward.

Although Semler's remarks on Monk by the Sea emphasize the diversity of perspectives occasioned by the Ruckenfigur, he also maintains that "all these chains of thought converge and there is a point where they come together." (69) If each viewer's thoughts are to be unique and experienced from within, on what level do these subjective experiences intersect with those of others? Hilmar Frank aligns Semler's imaginary point of convergence with Kant's focus imaginarius. In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant explains that transcendental ideas, although they tell us nothing constitutive about an object, nonetheless have a regulative use, directing "the understanding to a certain goal by reference to which the directional lines of all the understanding's concepts converge in one point." (70) This point is only an idea (focus imaginarius), existing "outside the bounds of possible experience," but it serves to give the understanding's concepts "the greatest unity, in addition to the greatest extension." (71) Frank aligns Sender's converging "chains of thought" with Kant's "directional lines" that meet in one point. (72) There may well be a correlation between these texts, but Frank neglects to address that Sender's Gedankenreihen stem from various individuals, extending beyond the cognitive faculties of a single subject. While I agree that Sender's common ground alludes to a transcendental point, beyond tangible experience, I wonder if it is further meant to reflect something parallel to the "ineffable reciprocity of feeling" that Kant's doctrines imply one can realize through aesthetic judgment.

In the 1970s several scholars did make a case for intersubjectivity in Friedrich's work, precisely in relation to the Ruckenfigur. Inge Fleischer, Berthold Hinz, Inge Schipper, and Roswitha Mattausch contended that subjectivity in Friedrich's representations of nature actually approaches intersubjectivity. (73) They argued that the Ruckenfigur denies viewers their countenance and, respectively, their individuality. The figure conversely reinforces a view of the human condition as intersubjective and reflective of society at large rather than belonging to individual subjectivity, as scholars of Friedrich generally suggest. (74) Referring to Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), the authors used the Ruckenfigur's contemporary dress to refute the universal understanding of this figure. His generic garb rather identifies him as a regular member of society, representative of the contemporary man. In this vein, Friedrich's Ruckenfigur'seems to evoke the anonymous bonds and abstract networks of communication on which Benedict Anderson argues the imagined communities of modern nationalism are based. (75) Indeed, after the Napoleonic wars, many of these figures wear old German costume, a ready symbol of German unity, and, without faces, they seem to express a radical political agenda in which the individual is subsumed under the nation. That said, the idiosyncratic features of a number of Ruckenfiguren have led scholars to identify them as specific individuals: Monk by the Sea is often interpreted as a self-portrait; Wanderer above the Sea of Fog has been viewed as a patriotic epitaph of the colonel Friedrich Gotthard von Brincken of the Saxon infantry, who was killed in the Napoleonic wars; Two Men Contemplating the Moon has been interpreted as a self-portrait with one of the artist's students; and the various female Ruckenfiguren are usually associated with Friedrich's wife. Friedrich's numerous references to individuality in both the production and reception of his work further undermine the thesis that the trope embodies the contemporary German man, but I agree that on some level the Ruckenfigur is meant to mediate an intersubjective experience among viewers. This "shared" experience, however, is not to be defined as the same across society.

A satirical dialogue written by Clemens Brentano, Achim von Arnim, and later revised and expanded by Heinrich von Kleist surrounding Friedrich's Monk by the Sea provides insight into what kind of shared experience the Ruckenfigur is intended to invoke. The dialogue begins with a description of Friedrich's painting, but not with an interpretation of its allegorical meaning. Rather, the authors articulate the feeling it conjures--one of longing. As they point out, though, this feeling does not originate in the painting itself: "what I should have found in the picture itself I found only between myself and the picture, namely a claim my heart made on the picture and the picture's rejection of me." (76) Moreover, the experience triggered by the painting is ultimately an inward one, removed from the work's empirical subject matter. And the motif of the Ruckenfigur facilitates this sensation: "and so I myself became the monk, and the picture became the dune, but the sea itself, on which I should have looked out with longing--the sea was absent." (77) Friedrich's monk draws the viewer in so that his or her aesthetic experience is no longer second hand, lived vicariously through the monk. Once the viewer appropriates the monk's position, the subject of his or her gaze--the sea--disappears. In other words, the feeling Friedrich's painting provokes transcends the actual picture, where the image itself acts only as a gateway to an individual aesthetic experience.

The dialogue then shifts to a disparaging recapitulation of the various conversations stimulated by Friedrich's painting upon its initial exhibition. Uneasy with the subject matter, some of the bourgeois gallery visitors avoid or dismiss it, and rather quibble over the painting's technical shortcomings and lack of aesthetic harmony. Others feign highbrow interpretations of the painting. Dropping names of the era's most notable poets and philosophers, they profess to uncover the work's philosophical underpinnings. These heterogeneous ramblings over the identity of Friedrich's monk and the meaning of the painting highlight two pivotal things about the work. The painting resists unequivocal interpretation, encouraging each viewer to engage subjectively with its content. But more importantly, any literal reading of this work is misguided. Even the most informed interpretation among the gallery visitors misses the point. Two gentlemen, for instance, isolate the monk as the ultimate subject of the picture. The first proclaims, "he is the soul, the heart, the whole picture's reflection in itself and on itself." (78) The other responds, "How divinely the figure is chosen, it is not merely a device to show the height of the other objects.... He is the subject itself, he is the picture." (79) These gentlemen err because they cling to the image itself. There is no consensus among gallery visitors precisely because the work's meaning lies beyond its empirical subject matter. The dark abyss of sea and sky intentionally abstracts the landscape from any allegorical signification. While the lone monk is our only point of reference, he is not the subject of the painting either; rather, the Ruckenfigur pulls us in so that we become the protagonists of the work. This figure provokes a specific feeling in each of us, beyond tangible expression. As the authors explain at the beginning of the dialogue, once we assume the monk's position the subject of the painting disappears. The only agreement that can be expected among sensitive viewers is a mutual experience of the free play of imagination and understanding. The Ruckenfigur thus acts as a catalyst for a plurality of singular aesthetic experiences, uniting spectators through a reciprocal inner experience rather than by leveling their subjectivity.

The Ruckenfigur's success as an intersubjective device rests on the viewer's experience of the self in its image. But how does this motif work when, with its back coldly turned to us, the figure could just as easily be read as an estranging force? On a basic level, it is precisely the monk's facelessness and generic proportions that led the painting's various contemporary critics to see themselves reflected in his body, i.e. the anonymity of the monk allows it to function as a double (Doppelganger). The double is a recurrent motif in Romantic literature and it generally manifests as a likeness to the main character and serves as a reflection of that character. (80) In E. T. A. Hoffmann's stories, for instance, the phenomenon of the double appears in characters that are to be considered the same person because they physically resemble each other, a relation that is heightened by "mental processes leaping from one of these characters to another ... so that the one possesses knowledge, feelings and experience in common with the other, " or when a character identifies him or herself with another, to the extent that s/he becomes uncertain as to which is his or her actual self, even substituting "the extraneous self for his own." (81) In his famous essay "The 'Uncanny,'" Sigmund Freud explains that this type of "doubling, dividing and interchanging of the self" is imagined by the subject in order to counteract the destruction of its ego; however, the double almost always becomes an "uncanny harbinger of death." (82) In the case of Monk by the Sea, it is through the death of the ego that the viewer first approaches a feeling of community. At the edge of the sea, on the periphery of earthly existence, the monk, and, respectively, the viewer, stands alone in longing for the hereafter. This yearning for death is realized in the companion piece, Abbey in the Oakwood (1809-10). A procession carrying a coffin moves past an open grave, plausibly the monk's, and, by extension, our own, so that only in death are we reunited with our brethren. (83) Put differently, as we assume the Ruckenfigur's body our ego is destroyed, and those experiences that are accidental and peculiar to the empirical subject are annihilated. We become the monk, and the sea--the subject of the painting--is gone. The experience is relocated to the transcendental subject, where all subjects are one.

For Semler, Brentano, von Arnim, and Kleist, the experience of the Ruckenfigur as an intentional point of entry sets in motion a particular response that they nonetheless fulfill through their own agency. The figure compels us to appropriate his gaze precisely because his positioning constitutes a visual formula, one that we, consciously or not, all recognize, and it is at this level that our individual experiences intersect. Our subconscious does not respond to the motif itself based on past experience, as Friedrich's landscapes depart significantly from eighteenth-century conventions. But Friedrich's visual structure is not so new in the sense that he is representing landscape reception itself. We intuitively assume the Ruckenfigur's image and look accordingly because we subliminally register our own past participation in landscape viewing. The Ruckenfigur thus ensures that, as Schiller's open concept of landscape depiction recommends, the landscape only guides us along the path we would pursue in our fullest freedom. The Ruckenfigur unconsciously equips us with the knowledge to engage with the landscape in a given way, but at the same time it does not deny us agency, for it guides us without an intentional subject. No matter how compelled we are to look, this predisposition exists within us not within the painting itself, and thus we are the masters of our own reciprocal experience.

Friedrich's art has long been understood as an "intermediary between nature and humanity," (84) and the Ruckenfigur certainly strikes one as a middleman between the spiritual and material worlds. But by activating profoundly personal aesthetic experiences that are at least in theory intersubjective, the Ruckenfigur may also serve as an intermediary between subjects. In one of his rare references to society Friedrich lyrically wrote, "You call me the enemy of mankind / Because I avoid society / You are mistaken / I love it [humanity] / But in order not to hate humanity / I must leave its acquaintance behind." (85) It is through the path inward, without any objective access to others, that Friedrich arrives at a feeling of Mitsein. Community is removed from the object, from the physical, and relocated to its rightful place in the kingdom of God. By endeavoring to provoke reciprocal spiritual feeling through a series of subjective encounters with nature, Friedrich's open landscape painting serves as the pillar of such a community.

University of Oregon


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I foremost thank Kajri Jain for first introducing me to the literature on community and intersubjectivity that inspired this essay. I would also like to thank Mark A. Cheetham, the editors of SiR, and the anonymous reviewers of this essay for their generous feedback.

(1.) ["Er ist ein entscheidenes Talent, daran ist kein Zweitel, allein er leidet an der allgemeinen Krankheit der jetzigen Zeit, an der Subjektivitat, und davon mochte ich ihn heilen"]. Johann Peter Eckermann, Gesprache mil Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1982), 147. Translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.

(2.) ["Der Maler soli nicht bloss malen, was er vor sich sieht, sondern auch, was er in sich sieht"]. Sigrid Hinz, ed., Caspar David Friedrich in Briefen und Bekenntnissen (Munich: Henschel verlag, 1974), 125.

(3.) ["Kunst ais Problematisierung des Daseins, als Erforschung und Ausdruck immer neuer Weltbeziehungen"]. Frank, "Die mannigfaltigen Wege zur Kunst: Romantische Kunstphilosophie in einem Schema Caspar David Friedrichs," Idea: Werke, Theorien, Dokumente, Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunsthalle 10 (1991): 170.

(4.) Nancy, Being Singular Plural, trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O'Byrne (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), 3.

(5.) For a discussion of intersubjectivity in Fichte's thought see Frederick C. Beiser, Gemian Idealism: the Struggle Against Subjectivism 1781-1801 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 334-48, and Wolfgang H. Schrader, "Autonomie und Interpersonalitat," Natur, Kunst, Freiheit: Deutsche Klassik und Romantik aus Gegenwartiger Sicht, ed. Marek J. Siemek (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998), 17-30. For an analysis of community in Kant's Critique of Judgment see Vivasvan Soni, "Communal Narcosis and Sublime Withdrawal: the Problem of Community in Kant's Critique of Judgment," Cultural Critique 64 (2006): 1-39.

(6.) It should be noted that after his marriage in 1818 Friedrich's inclination toward solitude softened. In addition, as Werner Hofmann has shown, Friedrich's frequent choice of patriotic subject matter, his work for the church in Stralsund, and his involvement in the Dresden Academy indicate that despite his solitary persona he sought to be an active member of his community. See Hofmann, Caspar David Friedrich (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000), 85-130, especially 99.

(7.) Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990), 75.

(8.) Hilmar Frank emphasizes that the Ruckenfigur friendship portraits usually have direct contact or some physical reference to Gemeinsamkeit (hand holding, etc.). He aligns Friedrich's double Ruckenfiguren with the similar motif of a pair enjoying a landscape view popular in the eighteenth century. See Frank, Aussichten ins Unermessliche: Perspektivitat und Sinnoffenheit bei Caspar David Friedrich (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), 185. For Friedrich, however, I think it is important to note that the figures often stand alone, and even when they do touch they still gaze off independently into a distant sea, sky, or village, distinctly separate from the foreground, rather than making eye contact.

(9.) Nancy, Being Singular Plural, 5, 9.

(10.) ["Flucht des Gemeingeistes ist Tod"]. Novalis, "Blutenstaub," Novalis Werke, ed. Gerhard Schulz (Munich: Beck, 2001), 343; translated by Frederick C. Beiser as "Pollen," The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 26.

(11.) ["Gemeinschaft der Sitten"]. Schlegel, "Versuch fiber den Begrift des Republikanismus veranlast durch die Kantische Schrift zum ewigen Frieden," Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler, vol. 7 (Vienna: F. Schdningh, 1958-), 18.

(12.) ["Die Gesellschaft is Einheit in Vielheit, und Vielheit in der Einheit. Aber wenn die Freyheit absolut ware, kunnte keine Gemeinschaft seyn, et vice verca. Wir mussen daher einen Mittelbegriff suchen, der beyde Begriffe verbindet, und sie moglich macht. Dies ist der Begriff der Gleichheit, das Fundament des Vemunftrechts"]. Friedrich Schlegel, "Transzendental-philosophie, " Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler, vol. 12 (Vienna: F. Schoningh, 1958-), 46; translated by Beiser as "Philosophical Lectures: Transcendental Philosophy," Early Political Writings of the German Romantics, 145.

(13.) ["Es ist hier nicht von der physischen Gleichheit die Rede, sondern von der moralischen"]. Schlegel, "Transzendentalphilosophie," 46; trans. "Philosophical Lectures," 145.

(14.) For an overview of the political roots of Schlegel's concept of community see Beiser, Early Political Writings of the German Romantics, xi-xxix.

(15.) Schlegel extended his ideal of social sovereignty directly to the artists of his day. See fragment 114 of his Ideen: Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel, "Ideen," Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler, vol. 2 (Vienna: F. Schoningh, 1958-), 267. It should be noted that a comparable model of artistic community was already circulating in the late eighteenth century, particularly with Asmus Jacob Carstens's intellectual circle in Rome.

(16.) Their commitment to "truth" was inscribed on a diploma signed by each member. For a transcription see Margaret Howitt, Friedrich Overbeck: Sein Leben und sein Schaffen (Freiburg: Herder'schen Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1886), 1:102.

(17.) For Runge's description of his project see Philipp Otto Runge, Hinterlassene Schriften von Philipp Otto Runge, ed. Johann Daniel Runge (Hamburg: F. Perthes, 1840), 2:202. See also Peter Betthausen, '"Die wahren Kunstler-ein Volk von Konigen: Die Gemeinschaftsidee der Romantiker," Von Caspar David Friedrich bis Adolph Menzel: Aquarelle und Zeichnungen der Romantik aus der Nationalgalerie Berlin/DDR, ed. Gottfried Riemann and Klaus Albrecht Schroder (Munich: Prestel, 1990), 28-30.

(18.) ["Wir drucken diese Gedanken aus in Worten, Tonen oder Bildern, und erregen so in der Brust des Menschen neben uns dieselbige Empfindung. Die Wahrheit der Empfindung ergreift Alie, Alie fuhlen sich mit in diesem Zusammenhang, Alie loben den einigen Gott, die Ihn empfinden; und so entsteht die Religion"]. Runge, Hinterlassene Schriften, 1: 11.

(19.) Scholl, Romantische Materei als neue Sinnbildkunst (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2007), 9420.

(20.) See Mitchell B. Frank, "The Nazarene Gemeinschaft: Overbeck and Cornelius," Artistic Brotherhoods in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Laura Morowitz and William Vaughan (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2000), 48-66; and Betthausen, "'Die wahren Kunstler,"' 27-36.

(21.) ["hohern Erkenntnisvermogen"]. Immanuel Kant, "Kritik der Urteilskraft," Immanuel Kant Werkausgabe, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel, vol. 10 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1957), 389; translated by Werner S. Pluhar as Critique of Judgment (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), 160.

(22.) ["Der gemeine Menschenverstand, den man, als bloB gesunden (noch nicht kultivierten) Verstand, fur das geringste ansieht, dessen man nur immer sich von dem, welcher auf den Namen eines Menschen Anspruch macht, gewartigen kann, hat daher auch die krankende Ehre, mit dem Namen des Gemeinsinnes (sensus communis) belegt zu werden"]. Kant, "Kritik der Urteilskraft," 389; trans. Critique of Judgment, 160.

(23.) Kant, "Kritik der Urteilskraft," 389; trans. Critique of Judgment, 160.

(24.) ["Folgende Maximen des gemeinen Menschenverstandes gehoren zwar nicht hieher, als Teile der Geschmackskritik, konnen aber doch zur Erlauterung ihrer Grundsatze dienen. Es sind folgende: 1. Selbstdenken; 2. An der Stelle jedes andern denken; 3. Jederzeit mit sich selbst einstimmig denken"]. Kant, "Kritik der Urteilskraft," 390; trans. Critique of Judgment, 160.

(25.) Lyotard, "Sensus Communis," Judging Lyotard, ed. Andrew E. Benjamin (London: Routledge, 1992), 5.

(26.) Lyotard, "Sensus Communis," 4-5.

(27.) Lyotard, "Sensus Communis," 22.

(28.) Lyotard, "Sensus Communis," 24.

(29.) Kant clearly states that objects of nature rather than art are the most ideally suited for aesthetic reflection. See Kant, "Kritik der Urteilskraft, " 410. Ironically, the Critique of Judgment's greatest legacy resides in the visual arts. Kant's Romantic interpreters forged a perennial link between art and aesthetics. In terms of landscape painting, Kant's most notable interpreters were Friedrich Schiller, Carl Ludwig Fernow, and Christian August Semler. For an excellent account of Kant's influence on art and art history see Mark A. Cheetham, Kant, Art, and Art History: Moments of Discipline (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

(30.) I want to emphasize that I am speaking here of the Fruhromantik, which I believe must be distinguished from High Romanticism in the visual arts as much as in literature and philosophy. After 1810 the fervent religiosity of the Nazarenes especially can no longer be seen to reflect this ideal of community.

(31.) Borsch-Supan, Caspar David Friedrich, trans. Sarah Twohig and John William Gabriel (Munich: George Braziller, 1990), 100.

(32.) ["Nicht die treue Darstellung von Luft, Wasser, Felsen und Baumen ist die Aufgabe des Bildners, sondern seine Seele, seine Empfindung soil sich darin widerspiegeln"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 101.

(33.) For a concise overview of these streams of scholarship see Reinhard Zimmermann, "'Kommet und sehet': Caspar David Friedrichs Bildverstandnis und die Frage des 'offenen Kunstwerks,'" Aurora 62 (2002): 65-93.

(34.) ["Jezt arbeite ich an einem grossen Bilde, worin ich das Geheimnis des Grabes, und der Zukunft darzustellen gedenke. Was nur im Glauben gesehn, und erkannt werden kann, und dem endlichen Wissen der Menschen ewig ein Ratsel bleiben wird"]. As cited in Zimmermann, "Kommet und sehet," 70.

(35.) ["Er druckt in ihnen gewonlich einen einfachen Gedanken oder ein einfaches, aber unbestimmtes Gefuhl aus"]. As cited in Zimmermann, "Kommet und sehet," 73.

(36.) ["Man kann uber seinen Werken traumen, aber klar verstehen kann man sie nicht, denn auch in seiner Seele sind sie unbestimmt"]. As cited in Zimmermann, "Kommet und sehet," 73; my emphasis.

(37.) ["doch alles beruhrt die Seele, versenkt in Traume, alies spricht, wenn auch nicht klar, die Phantasie an! So sind auch seine Worte: er selbst sagt, er konne weder den Gedanken, noch das Bild, welches diesen ausdruckt, erklaren, jeder solle seines dort finden, das heiBt seinen Gedanken in einer fremden Darstellung"]. As cited in Zimmermann, "Kommet und sehet," 74.

(38.) ["Gesetzt auch, XX hatte nicht allemal das dabei gedacht und empfunden, was seine Lobredner darin zu sehen glauben; so ist es doch schon ein groBes Verdienst und vielleicht das grosste eines Kunstlers, geistig anzuregen und in dem Beschauer Gedanken, Gefuhle und Empfindungen zu erwecken, und waren sie auch nicht die seinen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 112; my emphasis.

(39.) ["Jedes wahrhafte Kunstwerk muss nach seiner (Friedrich's) Meynung einen bestimmten Sinn aussprechen; das Gemuth des Beschauers entweder zur Freude oder zur Trauer, zur Schwermuth oder zum Frohsinn bewegen, aber nicht alie Emfindungen, wie mit einem Quirl, durch einandergeruhrt, in sich vereinigen wollen"]. Herrmann Zschoche, ed., Caspar David Friedrich: Die Briefe (Hamburg: Conference Point, 2005), 53.

(40.) ["Schliesse dein leibliches Auge, damit du mit dem geistigen Auge zuerst siehest dein Bild. Dann fordere zutage, was du im Dunkeln gesehen, daB es zuruckwirke auf andere von auBen nach innen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 92; my emphasis.

(41.) Schiller's review "Uber Matthissons Gedichte" was first pubbshed in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, no. 298 (September 11, 1794): 665-72. Friedrich Matthisson lived 1761-1831. For an alternative overview of the development of open landscape painting see Frank, Aussichten ins Unermessliche, 203-9.

(42.) ["Wenn man unter Poesie uberhaupt die Kunst versteht, 'uns durch einen freien Effekt unsrer produktiven Einbildungskraft in bestimmte Empfindungen zu versetzen'"]. Friedrich von Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," Samtliche Werke, ed. Barthold Pelzer, vol. 10 (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 2005), 188. Translations of Schiller's text are from Jason Gaiger, "Schiller's Theory of Landscape Depiction," Journal of the History of Ideas 61, no. 1 (2000): 115-32, with my own modifications and augmentations.

(43.) ["Wie hebt der Dichter nun diesen Widerspruch? Dadurch, daB er unserer Einbildungskraft keinen andern Gang vorschreibt, ais den sie in ihrer vollen Freiheit und nach ihren eigenen Gesetzen nehmen musste, daB er seinen Zweck durch Natur erreicht, und die aussere Notwendigkeit in eine innere verwandelt"]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 188.

(44.) Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 190.

(45.) Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 192, 190.

(46.) ["Nun besteht aber der ganze Effekt der Musik (als schoner und nicht bloss angenehmer Kunst) darin, die innern Bewegungen des Gemuts durch analogische aussere zu begleiten und zu versinnlichen ... Dringt nun der Tonsetzer und der Landschaftsmaler in das Geheimnis jener Gesetze ein, welche uber die innern Bewegungen des menschlichen Herzens walten, und studiert er die Analogie, welche zwischen diesen Gemuthsbewegungen und gewissen auBern Erscheinungen stattfmdet, so wird er aus einem Bildner gemeiner Natur zum wahrhaften Seelenmaler"]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 193.

(47.) ["insofern also die Landschaftmalerei oder Landschaftpoesie musikalisch wirkt, ist sie Darstellung des Empfmdungsvermogens, mithin Nachahmung menschlicher Natur"]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 193.

(48.) For a discussion of intersubjectivity in Schiller's theory of landscape depiction, see Gaiger, "Schiller's Theory," 115-32.

(49.) ["Jene liebliche Harmonie der Gestalten, der Tone und des Lichts, die den asthetischen Sinn entzucket, befriedigt jetzt zugleich den moralischen; jene Stetigkeit, mit der sich die Linien im Raum oder die Tone in der Zeit aneinanderfligen, ist ein naturliches Symbol der innern Uebereinstimmung des Gemuts mit sich selbst und des sittlichen Zusammenhangs der Handlungen und Gefuhle ..."]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 194.

(50.) Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 194, 193.

(51.) Friedrich was certainly familiar with some of Schiller's work. In 1799, for example, he executed a series of scenes from Schiller's Die Rduber (1781).

(52.) ["so wird er aus einem Bildner gemeiner Natur zum wahrhaften Seelenmaler. Er tritt aus dem Reich der Willkur in das Reich der Notwendigkeit ein . . ."]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 193.

(53.) ["Die Kunst musse uberhaupt nicht tauschen wollen, und eine so groBe Ausfuhrung beenge die Einbildungskraft des Beschauers"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 101.

(54.) ["andeuten musse das Bild nur, vor allem aber geistig aufregen und der Phantasie Spielraum geben und lassen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 101.

(55.) ["So betet der fromme Mensch und redet kein Wort, und der Hochste vernimmt ihn; und so malet der fuhlende Kunstler, und der fuhlende Mensch versteht und erkennt es"[. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 124.

(56.) ["Die heiligen Zehn Gebote sind der reine, lautere Ausspruch unser aller Erkenntnis vom Wahrhaften und Guten. Jeder erkennt sie unbedigt als die Stimme seines Innem, niemand kann sich dagegen emporen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 83.

(57.) ["Willst du dich also der Kunst widmen, fuhlst du eine Berufung, ihr dein Leben zu weihen, oh, so achte genau auf die Stimme deines Innem, denn sie is Kunst in uns"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 83.

(58.) ["Jeder individuelle Mensch ist gerade um soviel weniger Mensch, als er individuell ist; jede Empfmdungsweise ist gerade um soviel weniger notwendig und rein menschlich, als sie einem bestimmten Subjekt eigentiimlich ist"]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 190.

(59.) Gaiger, "Schiller's Theory," 117, 129.

(60.) ["Die Musik des unendlichen Spielwerks zu vemehmen, die Schonheit des Gedichts zu verstehen, sind wir fahig, weil auch ein Teil des Dichters, ein Funke seines schaffenden Geistes in uns lebt und tief unter der Asche der selbstgemachten Unvernunft mit heimlicher Gewalt zu gluhen niemals aufhort"]. Schlegel, "Gesprach liber die Poesie," Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler, vol. 2 (Vienna: F. Schoningh, 1958-), 285; edited and translated by Jochen Schulte-Sasse et al. as "Dialogue on Poesy," Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 181.

(61.) ["Die Ansicht eines jeden von ihr ist wahr und gut, insofern sie selbst Poesie ist. Da nun aber seine Poesie, eben weil es die seine ist, beschrankt sein muss, so kann auch seine Ansicht der Poesie nicht anders ais beschrankt sein. Dieses kann der Geist nicht ertragen, ohne Zweifel weil er, ohne es zu wissen, es dennoch weiB, dass kein Mensch schlechthin nur ein Mensch ist, sondern zugleich auch die ganze Menschheit wirklich und in Wahrheit sein kann und soli. Darum geht der Mensch, sicher sich selbst immer wieder zu finden, immer von neuem aus sich heraus, um die Erganzung seines innersten Wesens in der Tiefe eines fremden zu suchen und zu finden"]. Schlegel, "Gesprach liber die Poesie," 285-86; trans. (with my own modifications) "Dialogue on Poesy," 181.

(62.) ["inwiefem das Kunstwerk eine Schopfung des Menschengeistes ist, welcher durch ein wahrhaftes Erscheinen seiner Gedanken (ungefahr wie in hoherem Sinn die Welt Erscheinung gottlicher Gedanken zu nennen ist) den verwandten Geist iiber das Gemeine erhebt"]. Carl Gustav Carus, Briefe und Aufsatze uber Landschaftsmalerei, ed. Gertrud Heider (Leipzig; Weimar; G. Kiepenheuer, 1982), 20; translated by David Britt as Nine Letters on Landscape Painting: Written in the Years 1815-1624, with a Letter from Goethe by Way of Introduction (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2002), 86; original emphasis.

(63.) ["Tritt denn hin auf den Gipfel des Gebirges, schau hin iiber die langen Hugelreihen, betrachte das Fortziehen der Strome und alle Herrlichkeit, welche Deinem Blicke sich auftut, und welches Gefuhl ergreift Dich?--es ist eine stille Andacht in Dir, Du selbst verlierst Dich im unbegrenzten Raume, Dein ganzes Wesen erfahrt eine stille Lauterung und Reinigung, Dein Ich verschwindet, Du hist nichts, Gott ist alies"]. Carus, Briefe und Aufsatze, 21; trans. (with my own modifications) Nine Letters, 87. Original emphasis.

(64.) ["Nur alsdann, wenn er nicht als der oder der bestimmte Mensch ... sondern wenn er als Mensch uberhaupt empfindet, ist er gewiss, dass die ganze Gattung ihm nachempfinden werde"]. Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 190.

(65.) Schiller, "Gedichte von Friedrich Matthisson," 193.

(66.) Christian Scholl, for instance, recently called them "projection fields for the beholder's thoughts and feelings," where "what is seen does not answer" (Scholl, Romantische Malerei, 169).

(67.) ["man fishlt sich angezogen, mit ihm zu sinnen; jeder leiht ihm vielleicht andere Gedanken, weil jeder dem grossen und emsten Gegenstande eine andere geistige Ansicht zu nehmen, durch seine Individualist bestimmt wird"]. Semler, "Uber einige Landschaften des Malers Friedrich in Dresden," Journal des Luxus und der Moden (February 1809): 233-40; reprinted in Caspar David Friedrich: Gemalde, Druckgraphik und bildmaftige Zeichnungen, ed. Helmut Borsch-Supan and Karl Wilhelm Jahnig (Munich: Prestel, 1973), 72.

(68.) ["so wie in den meisten Friedrichschen Bildern, ziehen schon das Unbestimmte und Schwebende der Umrisse nebst dem heimlichen Dunkel der Beleuchtung, jeden, der nicht bloss an der Sinnenwelt hangt, fast unwillkurlich vom Sichtbaren zum Unsichtbaren, von der Korper-zur Geisterwelt, vom Endlichen zum Unendlichen hin"]. Christian August Sender, "Klinsky's allegorische Zimmerverzierungen und Friedrichs Landschaften in Dresen," Journal des Luxus und Moden (1808): 179-84; reprinted in Caspar David Friedrich: Gemalde, Druckgraphile und bildmassige Zeichnungen, 71.

(69.) ["indessen convergiren doch alie diese Gedankenreihen und es gibt einen Punkt, wo sie zusammentreffen"]. Semler, "Uber einige Landschaften," 72.

(70.) ["Dagegen aber haben [die transzendentalen Ideen] einen vortrefflichen und unentbehrlichnothwendigen regulativen Gebrauch, namlieh den Verstand zu einem gewissen Ziele zu richten, in Aussicht auf welches die Richtungslinien aller seiner Regeln in einen Punkt zusammenlaufen"]. Immanuel Kant, "Kritik der reinen Vernunft," Immanuel Kant Werkausgabe, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel, vols. 3-4 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1956), 565; translated by Werner S. Pluhar as Critique of Pure Reason (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996), 619.

(71.) ["der, ob er zwar nur eine Idee (focus imaginarius), d.i. ein Punkt, ist, aus welchem die Verstandesbegriffe wirklich nicht ausgehen, indem er ganz auBerhalb den Grenzen moglicher Erfahrung liegt, dennoch dazu dient, ihnen die groBte Einheit neben der grossten Ausbreitung zu verschaffen"]. Kant, "Kritik der reinen Vernunft," 565; trans. Critique of Pure Reason, 619.

(72.) Frank, Aussichten ins Unermessliche, 49.

(73.) Fleischer, et al., "Friedrich in seiner Zeit: Das Problem der Entzweiung," in Caspar David Friedrich und die deutsche Nachwelt: Aspekte zum Verhdltnis von Mensch und Natur in der burgerlichen Gesellschaft, ed. Inge Fleischer and Werner Hofmann (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1974), 20.

(74.) Fleischer, et al., "Friedrich in seiner Zeit," 20.

(75.) See Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 2006).

(76.) ["was ich in dem Bilde selbst finden sollte, fand ich erst zwischen mir und dem Bilde, namlich einen Anspruch, den mir das Bild tat, indem es denselben nicht erfullte"]. Clemens Brentano, "Verschiedene Empfindungen vor einer Seelandschaft von Friedrich, worauf ein Kapuziner," Clemens Brentano Werke, ed. Friedhelm Kemp, vol. 2 (Munich: C. Hanser, 1963), 1034; translated by Mary Whittall as "Various Impressions Experienced before a Seascape with a Monk by Caspar David Friedrich," in Werner Hofmann, Caspar David Friedrich, 283.

(77.) ["und so wurde ich selbst der Kapuziner, das Bild ward die Diine, das aber, wo hinaus ich mit Sehnsucht blickte, die See, fehlte ganz"]. Brentano, "Verschiedene Empfindungen," 1034; trans. "Various Impressions," 283.

(78.) ["er ist das Gemiit, das Herz, die Reflexion des ganzen Bildes in sich und iiber sich"]. Brentano, "Verschiedene Empfindungen," 1036; trans. "Various Impressions," 284.

(79.) ["Wie gottlich ist diese Staffage gewahlt, sie ist nicht wie bei den ordinaren Herrn Malem ein blofler MaBstab Rir die Hohe der Gegensfande, er ist die Sache selbst, er ist das Bild ..."]. Brentano, "Verschiedene Empfindungen," 1036; trans. "Various Impressions," 284.

(80.) Otto Rank, The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study, trans. Harry Tucker Jr. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971), 33.

(81.) Sigmund Freud, "The 'Uncanny,'" Art and Literature: Jensen's Gradina, Leonardo da Vinci, and Other Works, The Pelican Freud Library, trans. and ed. James Strachey, vol. 14 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1988), 356.

(82.) Freud, "The Uncanny," 356, 357.

(83.) Joseph Koerner suggests that Monk by the Sea is a self-portrait of Friedrich and that the grave in Abbey in the Oakwood is meant as his grave. The artist's longing for death in the first painting is realized in the latter, where he is brought to rest. See Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape (London: Reaktion, 1990), 67.

(84.) ["Die Kunst tritt als Mittlerin zwischen die Natur und den Menschen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 90.

(85.) ["Ihr nennt mich Menschenfeind, / Weil ich Gesellschaft meide. / Ihr irret euch, / Ich liebe sie. / Doch um die Menschen nicht zu hassen, / MuB ich den Umgang unterlassen"]. Hinz, Caspar David Friedrich, 82.
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Author:Amstutz, Nina
Publication:Studies in Romanticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Dec 22, 2015
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