23 Mar 2020

The painting Lake Geneva, Seen from Chexbres is one of thirteen versions of the view from the village of Chexbres looking south over Lake Geneva that Ferdinand Hodler painted from 1895 to 1911. He explained his predilection for the view as resulting from the fascinating immensity of its space. From a meadow high above the lake, the eye travels out across the reflecting surface of the water to the Savoy Alps in haze in the distance, above which a vast sky opens. The impression of immensity is enhanced by the cropping, which leaves the viewer uncertain as to the actual extent of the landscape.

Hodler recognized regularities in nature and from the 1890s he attempted to make them visible in landscape and figure paintings by means of symmetries. To this end, he reduced the natural model to create a harmonic interplay of naturalistic depiction and ornamental two-dimensionality – a principle of design and composition for which he coined the term parallelism. He produced this effect in Lake Geneva, Seen from Chexbres by means of the rhythmic arrangement of the clouds and the parallelism of the landscape elements. The elliptical formation of the front line of the shore and the banks of clouds further enhances the symmetry.

“#MuseumMomentofZen hopefully breaks up the anxiety of days spent scrolling through newsfeeds that read like harbingers of the end times. After all, when it’s not being politicized, commodified, or appropriated, art can revert to its fundamental purpose: to help us make sense or find hope as we struggle through life on this bewildering and embattled planet“, wrote Hyperallergic. So here’s a #MuseumMomentofZen that hopefully brings a little piece to your timeline.