November 19, 2008

Oluf Braren's Faces

Oluf Braren, Home Wedding
Oluf Braren, Home Wedding on the Island of Fohr (detail)

"Oluf Braren (1787 - 1839) was a painter of naïve art from the north Frisian island of Föhr." (Föhr is the second-largest North Sea island of Germany.)

I discovered Braren's unintentionally disturbing painting in Masters of Naive Art by Oto Bihalji-Merin. I can't find the entire painting, just this detail (any help?).

The caption says: "This North Frisian teacher and earliest lay painter in Germany has created a picture representing marriage symbolically as a bond and a bridge. The nuptials are a solemn cermony in which the bridal couple and the pastor form the focus, though in this detail they are not shown [thanks asshole]. The guests in their old-fashioned and precisely rendered costumes are looking on with astonishment."

Astonishment? This village of the damned clearly has something on its collective face, and I'm getting a little freaked out trying to name it.

Here's the rest of the caption: "The plasticity of his drawing and the crystalline glow of his colors intensify the individuality and self-sufficiency of the figures. There is something of the bleak silence of insular life in this definition of reality, which at the same time has an effect that is realistic, naive, and poetic."

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 9

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 1

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 4

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 2

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 7

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 8

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 5

Oluf Braren, Fohr head 3


  1. Will, Your blog is one of my favorites. I'm a graphics/book cover lover too. In fact I get slowed down at the book store by all the visuals.

    For this post, I commented on this at flickr. These children are not there. They're numb. I said, as a mother, these faces are painful to see. And as a child of a mother who could've been one of these children, doubly so. Thank you for posting this.


  2. Also, your post "Holes" from a few weeks ago: I meant to post a comment, but forgot. Have you seen Duchamp's Given? If not look it up. Though a more "civilized" take on the femaile body, it still plays with the themes of sexuality, childbirth, life, death, sacrifice, etc. It's a little graphic, just a warning.


  3. Where did Oluf go? If you want more of his stuff, I have access to it. He is my g-g-g-great grandfather's brother!! Let me know here if you are interested. He should be back in your skull.