CORINTH Lovis
German painter born in Tapiau in Eastern Prussia in 1858; died in Zandvoort, Holland, in 1925. Corinth studied painting in Koenigsberg, Munich, Antwerp, and Paris. After ten years in Munich, he settled in Berlin, about 1900. From 1918 until his death he spent the summers at Urech in Bavaria, near the Walchensee, whose intense blue sings in the landscapes of his latter years. With Liebermann, Corinth belonged to what is sometimes called German Impressionism. But his heavy, sensual early work is more Naturalist than Impressionist, and the spontaneity of style to which it owes its brilliancy is inspired more by Frans Hals than by the French Impressionists. The pictures of this period were voluptuous and vivid, or else heroic allegorical scenes. This gushing creation was interrupted in 1911, when the artist had an apoplectic stroke. His painting then underwent a profound transformation: his spontaneous style lost its externally sensuous character and, instead of naïvely presenting a three-dimensional world, Corinth tried to merge the planes in a single, strong, nervous movement of colour. The vitality of his painting no longer depended on its subject: it was fully contained in the flow and intoxication of paint. Flowers and landscapes -- first of the Côte d'A zur, later of the Walchensee -- painted in strong, thick, luminous colours, seem born of an intimate participation in the deep and powerful song of Nature.
Before he took ill, Corinth painted some vigorous portraits, but those that came afterwards, such as that of Meier-Graefe, painted in 1917 ( Museum of Modern Art, Paris), and the self-portraits of his latter years, have a superior emotional power. When this giant, worn down by illness and hard work, painted himself, all the strength and weakness, the reality and unreality of man, appear in this pathetic testimony. These same contrasts are to be found in his religious pictures, of which the most important is the magnificent Ecce Homo of 1925, now in the Basel Museum. Kirchner said of Corinth: 'In the beginning, he was only of average stature; at the end, he was truly great'.
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