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Still from Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella, Roberto Benigni, 1997). While carrying his six-year-old son Giosuè in his arms back to their barrack, Guido takes the wrong way in the fog and is horrified to discover a huge pile of dead bodies. The film abandons here the comic register and embraces that of sublime, reproducing the visual patterns of Romantic landscape painting. The fog, the mountain, the dwarfed Rückenfigur confronting the immensity of nature are recurring motifs in the work of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (The Monk by the Sea, 1808-1810; Morning Fog in the Mountains, 1808).

Below, a painting from the cycle We Are Not the Last (Nous ne sommes pas les derniers, 1970-1976) by Slovenian painter Zoran Music, based on his experiences at Dachau, where he had been deported in 1944.

Excerpt from a conversation between Zoran Music and art historian and critic Jean Clair (source: La barbarie ordinaire, 2001):

What was your first impression of Dachau?
Corpses everywhere. You couldn’t count them. It was a hallucinating world, a kind of landscape with mountains of corpses. (…)

You often speak of “landscapes of corpses”
Yes, it became a landscape because, when one saw hundreds, thousands of corpses, this was something indescribable. A painter expresses himself in these terms, he sees a landscape. (…) An artist can draw anything. More or less, better or worse. But when one sees a landscape of dead, it is quite different from the drawing of a leg at the Institute of Medicine. There, it is like a still life. But the camp was like a landscape, a forest of dead bodies. A virgin forest, if you may say so. You cannot describe it, you cannot imagine it. Those things were hallucinatory, unreal.

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One Comment

  1. There are more drawing that are extraordinary you are not showing from Zoran Music


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