During the five centuries of brilliant flowering of art in Europe Switzerland, located in the center of it, between France, Italy, Austria and Germany, has always been in the shadow of the achievements of the first German and then French painting. In the Swiss art since the eighteenth century is traditionally accepted to allocate two lines, which is a provincial branch of the leading European schools. There is even an extreme point of view that denies all of Switzerland, the existence of independent art. In the early XX century English painter and critic Max Birbaum wrote about the Swiss: "They have not produced a single artist, nor a musician; only the court, guides, waiters... It's a graceful and useless flower of civilization."
However, the Swiss painting still gave the history of the art of Conrad Wicca and URSA Count in the Renaissance and in the eighteenth century portrait painters European J.-C., Leo, Tara, A. Graff, and A. Kaufman. The nineteenth century brought a revival of artistic life, the expansion of contacts not only with France and Germany, but also Austria, Britain, Russia. A list of known outside the country of Swiss artists was supplemented in the nineteenth century, the names Henry Fuseli, Charles Gleyre, Alexander Kalama, Arnold Bocklin, Ferdinand Hodler.
The work of A. Kalam is associated with the birth of a new trend in the Swiss landscape painting, with the creation of the type romanticized epic Alpine landscape. Kalam is portrayed in his works, the majestic panorama of mountain ranges ("Four seasons", Geneva, Museum of history and art), the harsh and inaccessible peaks ("montrose", 1843, Neuchatel Museum), impassable forest thickets ("Eating in the mountains", Moscow, Pushkin Museum Pushkin), a picturesque mountain lake ("Lake of four cantons" Geneva, Museum of history and art). But Kalam opened for painting not only a new motive. He has developed a fundamentally new compared with the classical landscape of the XVII century system vicopisano. She is the artist owed his European fame loud, but pretty short. Painting system landscapes Kalam was wearing a compromise, corresponding to the transitional period in European painting of the mid XIX century. Works Kalam combines romantic motif of natural, not improved human nature and the "picture", the effect of painting from nature and build on the "laws of art".
Alexander Kalam was born in the small town of Vevey on lake Geneva in the family of a poor stonecutter. After his father's death he moved to Geneva where he first studied the family trade, and in 1830 entered the Studio of the famous artist, françois Fredy. Strictly speaking, that Fredy was the first in the art of Swiss painter of romantic and pathetic Alpine landscapes. But only with the advent of Kalama this type of landscape has gained the kind that is made to speak of "Alpine landscape school." Kalam quickly surpassed his teacher, took his place at the head Geneva art school and already in 1837, made in Hamburg with the painting "Forest near Avranches", which marked the beginning of his rapid rise to fame.
European recognition came to Kalam after the exhibition in 1839 at the Paris Salon were shown a picture of "Thunderstorm on handeke" (Geneva, Museum of history and art). She made a real sensation of hitting the imagination of the French spectators majestic pathos depicted the violence of the elements and excellent compositional skills. French traveler, who saw this picture ten years later in Geneva, conveyed the impression in rapturous praises Kalam and Alpine landscapes: "Kalam fed his genius with contemplation of grandiose nature. His talent, stern and austere, inspired by feelings rather than art. What a magnificent confusion! I can just hear the wind howls in these deep gorges; the storm clouds hovering just above the ground; a below guess the dark head of a giant who had caused all this storm." "Thunderstorm on handeke" became the banner of the "school of Kalam", an example of a series of Alpine species, which for a quarter of a century, the artist has supplied Europe.
The success of the landscapes Kalam was in recognition of details in a realistic reliability characteristics of a particular area. Rejecting the classical attributes of the landscape: the ruins, mythological characters, smooth bright sunlight - Kalam developed instead own recipes, we have created a unique landscape concept. He combined the picture of the parts of different types, resulting in a medium "artificial" landscape ("Mountain landscape", Paris, Louvre). However, these are composed of fragments of natural landscapes with their imposing stage pure and conventional color term, based on razmalyvanie tone in the image distances, kept the illusion of a genuine "wild and untamed" nature. This illusion is achieved due to the fact that Kalam with the same skill build "intrigue" of his works. Game of contrasts of light gave a dramatic tension MachineName in the workshop of the mind informed him the breath of life.
Kalam had a reputation as "the Creator of the Alpine painting, the greatest Swiss landscape painter and one of the best European artists of his century." He received numerous awards at international exhibitions in 1842 was promoted to knight of the Legion of honor, was elected a member of the St. Petersburg and Brussels Academies. The artist travelled to Germany and the Netherlands (1839), England (1840), France (1842), Italy (1845). He studied the works of Dutch landscape painters of the XVII century, N. Poussin and C. Lorrain, got acquainted with the modern English landscape school, with experience at Barbizon in France. But he remained true to his system of synthetic landscape, transforming according to its laws, nature sketches in different countries and localities. The sharpness of vision, accuracy of drawing, the taste and technical perfection Kalam manifested in greater degree in his etchings and lithographs, where he was not so strongly linked tyrannical will of the developed type of picture.
In 50-ies of the XIX century, the influence of the Kalam is widely spread, in nearly every European country were his followers. In Russia, for example, the "school of Kalam" belonged to a generation of landscape painters, among them such known artists as A. I. Meshchersky, V. D. Orlovsky, P. A. Sukhodolsky. European "calamity" very successfully applied the techniques of Swiss artist for the image of its national nature.
In 1863, the famous painter went for treatment at Mentone, where he died the following year from tuberculosis. In 1865 at the posthumous sale of paintings by Kalam in Paris, where he remained mostly small preparatory sketches and thumbnails, the total income from the auction was fantastic at the time the amount of 180 thousand francs. But a decade later, likening Kalam became synonymous with art criticism, censure, and the paintings of the famous landscape painter once seemed far-fetched and conditional on the background of the further development of European landscape painting.