EDUARD KASPARIDES ON THE ROAD TOWARDS SYMBOLISM
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The Viennese painter Eduard Kasparides (1858-1926) underwent three stages in his artistic development. In the 1880s, he devoted himself to conservative historical chiaroscuro painting. In the 1890s he made paintings in the spirit of the main current of Central European Symbolism, which was based on the influences of the Munich Secessionists. Around 1900, Kasparides reoriented himself from figurative painting to Symbolist landscape painting. His transformation into a landscape painter was traditionally construed as having happened on a trip to Sweden in 1897. The reason for it must be seen, however, in the events of the Viennese art world itself. In 1898, the Viennese Secessionists organised an exhibition of paintings by Fernand Khnopff which influenced the course of Viennese painting at the turn of the century. Among other things, Khnopff was attracted to two types of landscapes: views in the midst of forests of wooded interiors based on dense decorative groupings of vertical tree trunks and scenes of calm watery surfaces reflecting the surrounding environment. Not long after the exhibition, several Viennese painters, particularly those from the circle of the Secessionists headed by Gustav Klimt and Wilhelm Bernatzik, began making these two types of landscapes. Following Khnopff's exhibition, landscapes became a central theme of Kasparides' work as well. Water surfaces mirroring the surroundings became an important part of many of his landscape scenes. Khnopff's influence on Kasparides' is not as unequivocal as his influence on Klimt, however. In Kasparides' case, it is more a matter of being influenced by a general trend in the painting of the day sparked by Khnopff's exhibition. Kasparides did not depict narrow sections of landscape, pushing the painting towards abstraction, as is apparent in the work of Khnopff and particularly in that of Klimt. Kasparides' paintings were not as radical and their composition was often based on late Romanticist landscape painting. At the turn of the century, Kasparides became a member of Hagenbund. After Klimt's group left the Viennese Secession in 1905, Hagenbund worked its way to becoming the most avant-garde artistic group in Vienna. Kasparides resigned in 1904, at a time when the stances taken by artistic groups were becoming more and more radical. Hagenbund had been an ideal platform for him at a time when it represented a link between conservatism and Modernism. Kasparides frequently synthesised opposing styles of painting. He is one of those painters who escaped attention because they represented neither conservative nor avant-garde extremes. Nonetheless, it is just such artists who formed the greatest portion, quantitatively speaking, of the top artists in the art world at the time.
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