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Nicolas Eber: Fame and immortality

The anthropomorphic representation of trees by HansMattis Teutsch

The recognised and similarly also obvious precondition for a scientist or an artist for getting admission to the Parnassus of immortals consists in the invention or creation of something basically new. In the field of the sciences – and especially in that of the natural sciences – is something like that comparatively easy to recognise and at least retrospect indisputable. As it is well known, there were in the course of history also examples for it – like e.g. in the case of Galileo Galilei – that something like that could prove itself even as highly dangerous. In the field of the other as science recognised fields of knowledge – even if they are sanctioned by university-professorships – the situation is by far not so unequivocal and the teeth of time have already to quite some cognitions, which were initially believed to be significant, caused mortal wounds transfering them to the destiny of complete oblivion.

In the field of the arts the situation is from several respects fundamentally different, since no objective criterions are existing for their judgement.

In other fields, for example in history or politics the names of the temporary leading representatives is even more questionable and transient. The streets, places and institutions in the towns of the world are usually named after statesmen, scientists or artists of past times. With respect to statesmen this might induce frequent changes in some places. In Budapest one can find easily some old age persons who might remember that places or streets were named after the german Emperor William, the hungarian king Charles, Miklós Horthy, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Molotov or the soviet marshals Tolbuchin, Malinowskij or Vorosilov. The Swiss Confederation, where streets and places are never named after alive persons, may also in that respect, not only due to having been spared from two worldwars in the center of Europe, be considered as a good example. Contributed to that has also the circumstance that in Switzerland the chance to be elected for a public top position for very dominating and charismatic persons is extremely small.

In the field of the fine arts the chance of the discovery of something fundamentally new is considerably more restricted as in the field of sciences, where – not least due to the nearly unrestricted and boundless scientific and technical development of the nearer past – it appears to be nearly boundless and unlimited. The topics of the fine arts are essentially no others than those of mankind and its different mutual relationships – including history, religion, feelings, emotions, passions and all sort of activities – moreover the nature, i.e. the landscape and world of plants and animals. Within that the possibilities of going beyond the more or less true to nature possbilities are substantially restricted and mainly subject of the different ism’s. One of those is expressionism, the rather short blossoming time of which can be set between about 1890 and 1920. Within its scope and with its means two painters solved in the early 20th century on the one side the anthropomorphic representation oft he animal world – Franz Marc – and on the other side that of the trees – Hans Mattis Teutsch.

Whereas the anthropomorphic representation of the animal world in literature can look back to an already several thousand year long tradition (Aesop, Apuleius, J.W. Goethe, Grimm Bothers, Lafontaine, Rudyard Kippling, Felix Salten, George Orwell) in painting it was an absolute novelty when it was first realised at the beginning of the 20th century.

The anthropomorphic representation of trees has – to my best knowledge – until our days not even been thematised in literature. To that one may add, that with respect to painting the anthropomorphic representation of the fauna aswell as that oft the flora remained until our days unrecognised, i.e. that it was only realised in a manner which remained hidden aswell in front of the professional- as the general public. The corresponding cognition did neither take place from the part of contemporary art-criticism, history of art and the public nor from their successors in course of the around one hundred past years.

It left waiting until our days. It is consequently extremely surprising that this exercise is apparently finally becomimg the part of an amateur, like me.

From this it results with utmost clarity that although looking and seeing are closely related notions and procedures, according to this occurrence they do not follow each other always and necessarily ! Who knows why?

In the case of the compared to Hans Mattis Teutsch internationally much better and broader known Franz Marc is the absence of a cognition of that kind regarding his anthropomorphic animal-representations possibly and somehow better explainable and understandable, although for an attentive and unbiased observer of his paintings from the colouration, glances and poses of the represented animals the anthropomorphic allusion should result evident and obvious.

With regard to those paintings of Hans Mattis Teutsch which are belonging to this thematic – and which are exposed since many decades in the permanent exhibitions of several hungarian and rumanien museums – may the circumstance that their clearly recogniseable anthropomorphic character and message remained apparently sofar entirely unrecognized, appear to raise justification for thoughtfullness and apprehension.

In that respect obviously the much closer genetic relationship between humanity and animals – essentially mammals – which are having in comparison to the flora with regard to mobility and reproductiveness many similarities, is playing an important role. Fundamentally much more distant and smaller are in those respects the similarities between mankind and trees with regard to their immobility and methods of reproduction.

Even in comparison to fundamentally novel and ingenious representation of animals by Marc the anthropomorphic representation of trees by Mattis Teutsch is a lot more surprising and inventive. One may namely conclude with full justification that Hans Mattis Teutsch has invented and created, owing to his anthropomorhic tree-representations an entirely novel paintive language and a fundamentally and radically new style of expression within an entirely new framework. Those of his predecessors who can be reagarded as important renewers, like e.g. Césanne, Degas, Delaunay, Gaugin, van Gogh, Klimt, Matisse, Modigliani, Pisarro or Utrillo – witout pretention to completeness – were all remaining namely in thematical respect in the scope of customary and usual.

The tree-representations of Hans Mattis Teutsch in question are to my judgement something in a fundamentally new and unprecedented style and framework.

Illustrative examples

C:\Users\miki\Desktop\Franz Marc\Unbenannt.png

Franz Marc: Cat family, 1913, oil / canvas, 45 x 64 cm

C:\Users\miki\Documents\@Alter_Desktop\Mattis Teutsch Collection - Kopie\57..jpg

Hans Mattis Teutsch: Exalting tree-figure, approx. 1917

Oil / cardboard , 50 x 60 cm

C:\Users\miki\Desktop\MTJ Liebepaar.jpg

Hans Mattis Teutsch: Lovers, approx. 1917

Oil / Cardboard, 34 x 45 cm


Hans Mattis Teutsch: Girlfriends, approx 1917

Oil / Cardboard, 40 x 49 cm

Nicolas Eber / ebnic@sunrise.ch


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