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Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) | Art Nouveau painter





Ferdinand Hodler was one of the best-known Swiss painters of the nineteenth century. His early works were portraits, landscapes and genre paintings in a realistic style.
Later, he adopted a personal form of Symbolism which he called "Parallelism".
Hodler was born in Bern, the eldest of six children. His father, Jean Hodler, made a meager living as a carpenter; his mother, Marguerite (née Neukomm), was from a peasant family.


By the time Hodler was eight years old, he had lost his father and two younger brothers to tuberculosis.
His mother remarried, to a decorative painter named Gottlieb Schüpach who had five children from a previous marriage.
The birth of additional children brought the size of Hodler's family to thirteen.
The family's finances were poor, and the nine-year-old Hodler was put to work assisting his stepfather in painting signs and other commercial projects.
After the death of his mother from tuberculosis in 1867, Hodler was sent to Thun to apprentice with a local painter, Ferdinand Sommer.
From Sommer, Hodler learned the craft of painting conventional Alpine landscapes, typically copied from prints, which he sold in shops and to tourists.

Career
In 1871, at the age of 18, Hodler travelled on foot to Geneva to start his career as a painter. He attended science lectures at the Collège de Genève, and in the museum there he copied paintings by Alexandre Calame.
In 1873 he became a student of Barthélemy Menn, and investigated Dürer’s writings on proportions.

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He made a trip to Basel in 1875, where he studied the paintings of Hans Holbein - especially "Dead Christ in the Tomb", which influenced Hodler's many treatments of the theme of death.
He travelled to Madrid in 1878, where he stayed for several months and studied the works of masters such as Titian, Poussin and Velázquez in the Museo del Prado.
In 1880-81, Hodler painted Self-Portrait (The Angry One), in which his expression displayed exasperation at his continued poverty and lack of recognition.
It was ridiculed when displayed in Geneva, prompting Hodler's remark to a friend that the Swiss "will not understand me until they see I have been understood elsewhere".
He submitted the painting to the Paris Salon, where it was his first work accepted, although it was ignored by the critics.
The works of Hodler's early maturity consisted of landscapes, figure compositions, and portraits, treated with a vigorous realism.


In 1884, Hodler met Augustine Dupin (1852-1909), who became his companion and model for the next several years. Their son, Hector Hodler - who would found the World Esperanto Association in 1908 - was born in 1887.
Hodler was married twice. From 1889 until their divorce in 1891, Hodler was married to Bertha Stucki, who is depicted in his painting, Poetry (1897, Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich).
In 1898, Hodler married Berthe Jacques (1868-1957), whom he had met in 1894.

Legacy
In his time, Hodler's mural-sized paintings of patriotic themes were especially admired. According to Sepp Kern, Hodler "helped revitalize the art of monumental wall painting, and his work is regarded as embodying the Swiss federal identity".
Many of Hodler's best-known paintings are scenes in which characters are engaged in everyday activities, such as the famous woodcutter (Der Holzfäller, 1910, Musée d'Orsay, Paris).




In 1908, the Swiss National Bank commissioned Hodler to create two designs for new paper currency. His designs were controversial: rather than portraits of famous men, Hodler chose to depict a woodcutter (for the 50 Swiss franc bank note) and a reaper (for the 100 Franc note).
Both appeared in the 1911 Series Two of the notes.
Much of Hodler's work is in public collections in Switzerland. Other collections holding major works include the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago. | © Wikipedia






Ferdinand Hodler è stato un pittore Svizzero nato a Berna il 14 marzo 1853. Nel 1871 si trasferì a Ginevra, dove fino al 1876 fu allievo del pittore Bathélemy Menn.
In questi anni restò favorevolmente colpito dall'impressionismo e da alcuni grandi maestri del passato, in particolare da Albrecht Dürer.
Nel 1878-1879 viaggiò per la Spagna, dove poté ammirare da vicino le opere di Diego Velázquez.
Negli anni successivi cominciò a tenere mostre personali in alcuni importanti circoli culturali svizzeri.
I soggetti preferiti delle sue prime opere sono i paesaggi ed i ritratti, trattati con realismo vigoroso, accentuato dal colore puro e luminoso.
Col passare degli anni il suo stile si evolve per creare grandi composizioni storiche e decorative, dal tratto forte ed espressivo con colori sempre più ricchi; in questo si sente l'influenza di diversi generi, tra cui il Simbolismo e l'Art Nouveau.


Sono presenti raggruppamenti di figure interiorizzate e organizzate simmetricamente in posizioni che danno l'idea di un rituale o di una danza; questo metodo fu da lui definito Parallelismo, per dare l'idea della ripetizione delle forme e dei colori.
Tuttavia, le opere che ottennero più successo furono quelle che ritraggono persone comuni riprese nella vita di tutti i giorni, che danno un'immagine simbolica del lavoro e della fatica fisica.
Nel 1900 Hodler diventò un membro della Secessione viennese e della Secessione di Berlino; nel 1904 anche della Secessione di Monaco.
Le opere di questi anni sono sempre più simboliche, piene di un umanesimo idealizzato che non rifiuta totalmente il realismo.
Con il passare degli anni, al simbolismo coloristico si affianca un abbozzo di espressionismo realizzato attraverso figure geometriche dai colori forti e netti: in effetti, sull'espressionismo tedesco la pittura di Hodler esercitò un notevole influsso.
I soggetti preferiti continuano ad essere i ritratti ed i paesaggi alpini, ora ridotti ai minimi termini, come una specie di cuneo di terra fra acqua e cielo.
Queste opere non sempre vennero giudicate in modo positivo dalla critica del tempo, tanto che molti musei e gallerie si rifiutarono di esporle.


Nonostante ciò, quelle gallerie che tennero sue mostre personali ottennero grandi successi, tanto che Hodler cominciò a ricevere onori, diventando uno dei pittori più importanti in Europa.
Durante la prima guerra mondiale Hodler condannò i bombardamenti effettuati dall'artiglieria tedesca contro la Cattedrale di Reims: come rappresaglia, i musei d'arte tedeschi esclusero le sue opere.
Nel 1915 la morte della sua amante, Valentine Godé-Darel, lo sconvolse notevolmente; da quest'esperienza traumatica creò una serie notevole di pitture che ne documentano la lenta ma inesorabile fine.
Ferdinand Hodler morì il 19 maggio 1918 a Ginevra, lasciando incompiute un discreto numero di opere che ritraggono la città. | © Wikipedia