171108: Kunsthalle Krems: Peder Balke – Pioneer of Modernism

Kunsthalle Krems: Peder Balke – Pioneer of Modernism North Star with delayed visibility 40 landscape paintings by Peder Balke (1804-1887) fill the chic, but rather cool sky lit room in the Kunsthalle Krems. While his work is rather unknown to this part of the world, it nevertheless seems familiar. Didn’t the old masters compose their classic paintings in line with the three colour zones: brown front, green middle part, and blue as the depiction of distance. And didn’t numerous painters in the first half of the 19th century like Caspar David Friedrich, Johan Christian Clausen Dahl, Carl Rottmann, and William Turner leave their traces in Balke’s oeuvre? But then one stands in front of these landscapes, which one has never seen painted in this way before. In 1847, King Louis-Phillipe bought two of his oil paintings and 26 drawings, all of which are now owned by the Louvre. But already during his lifetime Balke sank into oblivion. Balke had travelled extensively and visited important art centres such as Dresden, Munich, Paris, and London; and he even came to Vienna. But when Balke started to experiment with his technique, his Norwegian contemporaries, who by then favoured the style of the Dusseldorf school, not only found his work insufficiently contemporaneous but even considered him incapable of painting. Nevertheless, Balke remained a well-known figure in the public: as a social reformer. From that time on he only experimented within his own four walls. Today, these experiments established his reputation as a “Pioneer of Modernism”. His romantic variations of the North Cape, once immersed in dramatic lighting or surrounded by cloudy skies, the masses of turbulent water, the loneliness of his landscapes, or people in lighthouses or on ships, make’s one curious to find out more about this North Star and his delayed visibility. His late 1850s landscape paintings are the “real” (re) discovery. They show the entire range of Balke’s remarkably modern handling of colour as material: colour wiped with bristle brushes, wet-in-wet painting, or the scraping off and telescoping of colour layers. Although his compositions were rather traditional, Balke took up the challenge offered by landscape painting and started his formal experiments. His work went far beyond the usual “viewing-limits” of his contemporaries; his work became nearly incomprehensible to them: the fate of modern artists per se. Kunsthalle Krems 3500 Krems, Franz-Zeller-Platz 3, until 05.02.09 www.kunsthalle.at

Kunsthalle Krems
3500 Krems, Franz-Zeller-Platz 3
Tel: +43-2732 90 80 10, Fax: +43-2732 90 80 11
Email: office@kunstalle.at
Öffnungszeiten: Di - So und Mo wenn Feiertag 10-18 Uhr; in den Wintermonaten 10-17 Uh

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