Expressionist Studies and Notes

Expressionist Studies and Notes large

Two thumbnail sketches show a woman’s face divided down the middle in Matisse-like fashion; one side is coloured red, the other blue. In the margin, Robert writes: “The moody stylish lighting suggests glamour and excitement. As well it implies a sensual feel and a heightened emotionalism. Lighting the right side of her face with red and the left side with blue symbolizes the complex pull of opposite emotions: love and guilt, pleasure and hurt, wildness and convention. The face becomes a landscape of eroticism: totally sharp and clear, yet also mysterious, wondrous.” Robert used lighting effects to push his realist images into a more expressionist mode.

Another strategy Robert used to move away from realism is that of displacement. This is demonstrated in the thumbnail sketches at bottom for the painting Summit and its later variation, High. Couples usually dance indoors. Robert has situated this romantic activity in an unlikely setting, the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. His first sketch shows the couple naked. The second sketch copies the central figures in Edvard Munch’s famous allegory, Dance of Life, an important inspiration as Robert works out his own form of allegorical realism using contemporary models and local scenery.

Expressionist Studies and Notes

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