Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Matthias Grunewald takes your heart to a really strange place of ascension service through God with The Crucifixion, c. 1523-1524, from Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Not only do we have the whole thorn bush wrapped around Christ's head, rather than a crown of thorns, his loin cloth in tatters, and enormous feet nominating the cross base, a rough cross, bashed together from a felled tree but the whole sombre background feels more inside a forest come stage set, or simply emotionally inside his heart. The unique rendering of the twisted hands and crippled up feet are also suggested in other crucifixions such as the Isenheimer Altar in Musee d'Unterlinden in Colmar, France. This larger crucifixion was part of another altarpiece and would have had side leaves on either side in a humble church of wood, one would be imagining, even in the time of Johann Sebastian Bach, the surrounding location was a darkly wooded night or the time of the Goths. Never heard an organ play. Most of Medieval German villages still feel a bit this way. So, God graced us with art and Matthias Grunewald to help us on our way.