The Nature Music. The Problem of Abstraction of Landscape in the Creation of Wojciech Weiss and M.K. Čiurlionis

Anna Baranowa (PDF)

In the early twentieth century, strict academic painting rules were rejected in landscape painting, restricting the artist’s freedom of expression. The painters Wojciech Weiss and Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis were born in 1875. The canvases ‘Evening Beam’ by Weiss and ‘Forest Music’ by Čiurlionis belong to the theme of forest iconography. At that time, many works appeared depicting the forest as a structure of repetitive, simplified elements. Both paintings feature the iconographic motif of a hand plucking strings of trees like a harp. The painting ‘Evening Beam’ was created when the artist was just 23 years old. Musicality was the main problem of Weiss’s painting at that time. The work was seen as a representative example of the expressionist landscape at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Čiurlionis painted ‘Forest Music’ as an established composer, having composed his first symphonic poems and as a novice painter. Meanwhile, Čiurlionis developed his vision between painting and music with his characteristic maximalism, increasingly distancing himself from music and engaging in painting. His work grew out of symbolism, was influenced by expressionism, and is recognised as a pioneer of abstractionism and surrealism.

Keywords: painters, forest iconography, paintings ‘Evening Beam’ and ‘Forest Music’, expressionism