Friday, January 07, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Arnold Böcklin

Swiss-born artist Arnold Böcklin' s name isn't nearly as familiar to me as some of those artists and composers his work influenced: artists Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico; composers Rachmaninoff and Hans Huber among others. His work influenced 20th century film makers and even more recently in the series finale of TV series Lost, a driver from Oceanic Airways wears a uniform with the name tag 'Bocklin,' presumably referencing the artist's most famous painting Isle of the Dead.

(Left: His self portrait with Death playing violin.)

Böcklin painted several different versions of Isle of the Dead - one is shown below. Description and more detail on its influence available at Wikipedia's page HERE.

Arnold Böcklin was born in Basel, Switzerland on 16 October 1827. After studying in Germany he travelled and studied further in other European cities, and was most notably influenced by his time in Rome. His style evolved from landscape to romanticism to symbolist. Many of his paintings feature mythological subjects, quite similar to subject matter of Britain's Pre-Raphaelites (who, I have to say, were much better artists in that genre). His paintings often reveal an obsession with death - which isn't too surprising considering that his wife, who he met in Rome, bore him eleven children between 1855 and 1876; five of them died in infancy, and the Böcklin family was twice (in 1855 and 1873) forced to flee cholera epidemics. In spite of his rather dark obsession, though, he still devoted time to the invention of a flying machine, negotiating with businessmen for its manufacture.

I'm interested to see whether there's an astrological reason for this artist's fascination with death.

It's not immediately obvious.

A stellium (cluster of planets) Sun/Jupiter/Venus in Libra indicates his gravitation to art (Venus is planet of the arts and Libra is ruled by Venus). Jupiter adds an urge towards religious subjects, as well as excess/exaggeration. Perhaps Jupiter here could also reflect Böcklin's apparent ability to influence so many of his contemporaries.

Moon, at 12 noon was at 0 Virgo. Depending on his time of birth, Moon could have been anywhere between 24 Leo and 7 Virgo. A birth around or after noon, putting Moon in early Virgo would have thrown up a Yod involving Moon in Virgo sextile Mercury in Scorpio, both in quincunx (150*) aspect to Pluto, the planet associated with death and darkness. Pluto at the apex of a Yod (aka Finger of Fate) fuelled by Mercury (communication)in Scoprio, Pluto's rulership in sextile to Moon (inner, emotional self) pretty well describes a person with an urge to communicate his inner feelings about death and darkness. (The planet at the apex of a Yod is said to provide an "outlet" for the blended traits of the sextiled planets.)

There's a Saturn-Uranus opposition in his chart which nicely reflects, I think, his own two sided nature: a preference for myth and tradition (Saturn) as subjects for his paintings, yet he harboured an urge to invent (Uranus) a flying machine.








FONT named after this artist, designed by Otto Weisert


Gian Paul said...

Quite funny to discover a Swiss painter (whom I, being Swiss, ignored) through an English Astrologer radicated in Oklahoma!

Agreed, Boecklin is not the best romantic/symbolist painter I have come accross. Segantini (also Swiss), is quite another class.

Boecklin's fascination with death (even playing the violin), astrologically speaking may come from his Saturn (often related to the end of things, hence death) placed natally in Cancer, the Moon's domicile. Somewhat dreaming about it, on an "island", also playing an instrument (fiddler by the ear...). This Saturn being opposed by Neptune/Uranus is possibly more than just dreaming while the Moon shines - hence other artists found him of interest, Dali etc. whom you mention.

Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the intro to this wonderful artist, T.
I love his work!
(It is the darkness in me!)

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Yes, isn't it - and you missed out a layer of diversity - the fact that you're in Brazil! :-) Ain't the internet grand?!

Thanks for your additional thoughts on the astrology - they are much appreciated.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ My dark pleasure!