Shadows of the Present

Christian Schad (1894-1982). The Friendly Dr. Haustein, 1928. Photo: Catalogue of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid.

The current financial crisis surprised most, but not all experts. The shadows of years of unprecedented cheap loans, consumerism, tricky financial constructions, lack of supervision and greed are only balanced by the sky high construction activities in Spain. The Spanish miracle consisted of a circle of an inexhaustible money supply due to the construction boom and an unprecedented construction era because of the money supply. The dark side of the Spanish boom was apparently hidden in the burning sun light. The government was not aware of any shadow until very recently. The ECB and European Commission policies are rather similar.

The sunny side of life, light and positive messages never lack attention. This human phenomenon goes back to the history of art. Only a few art historians dealt with the history of use of shadows, although this history has ancient roots.An ancient legend mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD) places the origin of painting in Corinth, where a young girl, the daughter of the potter Butades of Sicyon, is said to have drawn the outline of her beloved’s shadow on a wall by the light of a candle.
In 20th-century painting, the shadow was practically rejected by the early cubists and the subsequent abstract movements faithful to the two dimensionality of the picture. It was not until Giorgio de Chirico’s call for a ‘return to order’ in the 1920s that the shadow came back into favour. In de Chirico, shadows denote a false authenticity while projecting a nightmarish air onto the scene. Such antinomy is typical of much of 20th century realism, in which the sinister coexists with an apparently stable but actually false order.

This can be seen in a variety of ways in the work of Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Christian Schad, Felix Nussbaum, Dick Ket, Carel Willink, Pyke Koch, Alfonso Ponce de León and Gregorio Prieto. In Picasso’s The Shadow on the Woman, featured in this room, the artist’s own shadow floods the canvas as it possesses the naked woman depicted in the painting. The Interbellum painter Christian Schad symbolizes the current financial crisis. Dr. Haustein looks into the city, but the shadow of an alien is visible on the wall. Source: