Franz Radziwill - Einmal nah, einmal fern
Einmal nah, einmal fern
Oil on canvas laid down on thin wooden panel 33.7 x 44.8 cm In original artist's frame. Signed 'Franz Radziwill' in the lower depiction, in different tone (brownish resp. yellowish), depending on which half of the painting. Work number '491' in black-brown brush verso on the primed panel. - Minimal frame-related rubbing in the margins; an unobtrusive faint superficial scratch.
Franz Radziwill's oeuvre is accompanied by his still lifes, which are exemplary in their magical reification of the depicted objects. This magic had always been the result of the paradox in the pictorial effect achieved: the naturalistic depiction of corporeal forms appears in its static immobility and in its pictorial isolation of reality in beauty and artificiality beyond reach. In the arrangements and manner of composition from the 1940s and 1950s onward, it became possible to intensify this distance from reality through an expanded surrealistic component related to content or, rather, narrative. Contrasts and breaks - which remarkably first appear in the landscapes - can also be found in the still lifes. One of the classic devices for extending the content of still lifes is the window, the view out of the window or the “picture within a picture”. The dimension of depth achieved hereby transcends the superficiality of the foreground through the profundity of the background and establishes connections. In Franz Radziwill's work, the formal ruptures within the images take on a symbolic significance and arouse the viewers' fantasy.
In the singular composition “Einmal nah, einmal fern”, the work's subject is doubled through its repetition: within the space of the painting - as in a trompe-l'oeil - a sheet of wood painted in bold, shining colours pushes its way in front of a muted, greyish-brown background with an identical motif. This is a gentle playing with optics and with levels of meaning: Is it an imagined memory at the left? Is it the vibrancy of the renewed objective presence at the right? Is the right the “positive” transformation of an obvious “melancholy” in the left half of the painting? Is the latter more likely to be real, though far away, while the colourfully painted sheet of wood on the left is boldly thrust forward, pushed on top of it? Either way, the moment's relative preciousness results from the fragility and ephemerality of the depicted motif, because nothing seems as transient as the nearness and the nearby lingering of a little bird.
The artist's central signature appears just as ephemeral: with its two colours, one faint and the other bolder, subjected to the fate of things and beings, subject to time, too. However, the shift in the motif results in more than a festive intensification of the painting's chromatic tonality. It seems to evoke a romantic experience of nature, which Franz Radziwill had already captured previously in a very few examples of his painting, for instance in the 1928 painting “Vogel am vereisten Fenster” (Schulze 291) or the 1938 “Buchfink auf dem Fensterrahmen” (Schulze 469).
List of works
Schulze 696; the work is recorded in the artist's work lists under the number 491.
Acquired from the artist; Private possession, North Rhine-Westphalia