Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls (Grunewald) - San Francisco  2014

Like the painters of the Hudson River School, Grunewald often portrayed nature as a combination of divine power and sublime beauty. He was particularly fascinated by Niagara Falls, the ultimate symbol of that concept, and made at least 11 versions of it, two of which were once attributed to John Vanderlyn.

Yet Grunewald didn't always strive for the most romantic interpretations. A landscape of the Delaware Water Gap is placid and bucolic, while another of the Lehigh River gorge at Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) is downright pedestrian, considering the Alpine character of the scenery there.

Grunewald wasn't an inspired painter or always an especially graceful one, and some of his work seems labored and formulaic.

Well, maybe. Anyway, Mike liked these early panorama mode paintings seen in the DeYoung Museum.

[Add: and in a nice Nabokovian coincidence, what should appear in the Jan. 27th issue of the New Yorker but a poem by Alfred Corn titled "In the Grunewald Cafe:"

Where do slackers go to get their jollies? / Where do they spend hours every day? / Where commit their most moronic follies? / In the Grunewald Cafe.]

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