Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mid-week Masters: Gabriel von Max at the Frye

The work of Gabriel von Max is currently on exhibition at the Frye Art Museum. I am shamed to admit my art degree let me down, because I didn't know of von Max's work until I went to see it at the Frye. I'm going to be a little punk and say that (pre-modernist) oil painting in general bores me. A whole lot of nude women appeasing the male gaze (Laura Mulvey what what!), sunlit vistas, biblical stuff, and rich people's horses/dogs. So, I went to the von Max show mostly because I wanted something to do that was somewhat enriching and the admission to the Frye is free. It was the best uneducated decision I've made in a while. I fell in love with his work. I've never seen skin tones on a canvas that glow like his do. The eyes of his subjects, oh the eyes!

take a look at some of his work after the jump

Von Max also studied Darwinism, Spirtism, parapsychology, and kept and studied capuchin monkeys. The influence of these varied fascinations can definitely be seen in his work. These influences combined with his incredible technical talent make for paintings that, even when they depict traditional oil painting subjects like saints (see Die ekstatische Jungfrau Katharina Emmerich below), are so compelling they changed my opinion about oil painting. If you ever have the chance to see one of his paintings in real life go do it! These internet reproductions in no way capture the amazing sensuality of paintings, but it's the best I could do. The show at the Frye runs through October.

Die ekstatische Jungfrau Katharina Emmerich  1885 

Der Anatom (The Anatomist), 1869

Study for Ein Vaterunser (Our Father1887

further reading: 

Gabriel von Max: Malerstar, Darwinist, Spiritist


  1. He's one of my favorites. I love pre-modern stuff. You'll have to look up Sargent and Millais too. Similar to Gabriel von Max. I'm so jealous you got to see his exhibit! It must have been wonderful.

  2. Oh Sargent is one of my favorites! Madame X is a permanent inhabitant of my inspiration board. Also, I think the von Max show is a traveling exhibit so there's a possibility it will be coming to a city near you.