The highest, millions, prices for sales of auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's are exactly the landscapes of Ferdinand Hodler, written in the early twentieth century. "Mountain Le Gramont" today is not the most expensive painting of the artist (4,248 million Swiss francs against a record 10,912 per painting "View of Lake Geneva from the side of Saint-Pre"
), but definitely one of the most important to Hodler.
Once Hodler was visiting the artist Max storm
- and his attention was attracted by a magnificent accordion, which Storms would not agree to sell for anything. The tool did not give the artist peace of mind - and he periodically persuaded a friend to agree to a deal. Finally, he gave up, but as a payment he asked not for money, but for that picture of Hodler, which he himself considers the most successful. And in exchange for a rare, presumably, musical instrument received Khodler's “Mount Le Gramont”.
Ferdinand Hodler wrote his first landscapes in the small town of Thun: popular postcard pictures, pastoral and touching - they went like hot cakes to tourists who had come to look for Swiss mountain silence and romance. And when the 18-year-old Hodler escapes from the provincial Tuna to Geneva, he will first begin to attend lectures on natural history, and only a year later will go to the School of Fine Arts. During his five years of schooling, he went out into the open air hundreds of times and comprehended all the subtleties of Barbizon’s landscape art - he learned how to observe nature and grasp the changes in its conditions. By the time the landscape once again takes the main place in his work, the artist will be almost 50 - and it will be completely different works. The work of a man who is well versed in mineralogy and geology. The works of a man who not so much observes and admires how much he seeks symmetry, harmony, the key to understanding, the original ideal design of the One who created this world.
In the last 15 years of his life, Hodler wrote hundreds of landscapes — and with each succeeding year they became quieter, clearer and simpler. Time erases blades of grass on them, turning the shoreline into a solid green stripe, time polishes the line of mountains in them, cleans out irregularities and relief, lulls lakes in time, smoothing tiny uneasy waves on them. Forms become elements - one big spot of a mountain, one big strip of water, very tiny dotted coast. So far, in recent landscapes, conventionality will almost become an abstraction: one parallel lines of color
But in the “Mountain of Le Gramont” the signs of the landscape have not yet been erased. They are simplified to decorativeness: this ripple of rhythmic waves, these ribbed broken lines of mountains. Several shades of blue and green alternate, set the rhythm. Hodler himself called his late landscapes cosmic: the artist deliberately expands the natural angle of view, moves away to see more, for real. Often this view is also from a height above the reach of the naked human eye. This is how birds or angels look. But in the “Mount Le Gramont” the artist stands on the ground. On the ground, which we do not see, but can only imagine. At the edge of one element - and at the edge of another.Author: Anna Sidelnikova