Gabriel von Max

 O Mensch gib Acht

(The Phantom Katie King)

oil on canvas, after 1900

Gabriel von Max


"O Mensch gib Acht"

["Oh Man, Take Heed" or "Oh Man, Be Careful"] (the first line from Friedrich Nietzsche’s poem “Zarathustra’s Roundelay” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

 

(Young Woman, the Phantom Katie King, Reclining with Pocket Watch)


     circa 1900-15

 

     oil on canvas

     32,2 x 25,1 cm (12 11/16 x 9 15/16 in.)

 

     Signed upper right: G. v Max

     Inscribed lower left: O Mensch gib Acht



Exhibition History:


"Gabriel von Max: Be-tailed Cousins and Phantasms of the Soul," Frye Art Museum, Seattle, July 9-Oct. 30, 2011


"Arte e Magia: Il Fascino dell'Esoterismo in Europa," Palazzo Roverella, Rovigo, Italy, 2018-2019


Publication History:


Aleš Filip and Roman Musil, eds., Gabriel von Max (1840-1915) (Prague: Arbor vitae, 2011), ill. 387, pg. 301 (with the title "Fantom Katie King").


Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, ed., Gabriel von Max (Seattle: Frye Art Museum, 2011), ill. 25, pg. 45.


Francesco Parisi, ed., Arte e Magia: Il Fascino dell'Esoterismo in Europa (Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2018), Cat. Nr. 137, pgs. 230 (ill.) and 316.



Discussion


"Tra gli iscritti alla Psychologische Gesellschaft di Monaco insieme al collega Albert von Keller, il pittore Gabriel von Max indagò, in molte delle sue opere, stati sonnambolici, di trance medianica e di mesmerizzazione, arrivando a raffigurare veri e propri fantasmi e spiriti materializzati, come la celeberrima Katie King.


La donna, sprofondata nel letto con la testa bendata come la mistica Katharina Emmerich o le veggenti raffigurate in altre opere di von Max, sorregge nella mano sinistra un orologio da tasca mentre con la destra sembra indicare il cielo in modo grave e misterioso. La modella sembrerebbe avere gli stessi tratti dell'apparizione spettrale di Die Weisse Frau.


Il titolo del dipinto, O Mensch gib Acht, è un verso tratto dalla Zarathustra's Rundgesang, parte dell'opera di Nietzsche Also Sprach Zarathustra, che proprio in quegli anni era stata musicata da Gustav Mahler e inserita nella sua Sinfonia n. 3 (1895). Ma altri versi di quella composizione avrebbero potuto suggerire all'artista riferimenti al mondo non cosciente da cui egli era affascinato: 'Ich schlief, ich schlief, / Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: / Die Welt ist tief, / Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht' ['Io dormivo, dormivo, /Da un sogno profondo mi sono risvegliata: / Profondo è il mondo, / E più profondo che nei pensieri del giorno']."  Mario Finazzi, Arte e Magia at p. 316.


English translation (Jack Daulton):


"Among the members of the Psychologische Gesellschaft [Psychological Society] of Munich together with his colleague Albert von Keller, the painter Gabriel von Max investigated, in many of his works, sleepwalking states, mediumistic trance and mesmerization, coming to depict real ghosts and materialized spirits, such as the famous Katie King [the subject of this painting].


The woman [Katie King], sunk in bed with her head bandaged like the mystic Katharina Emmerich or the visionaries depicted in other works by von Max, holds a pocket watch in her left hand while with her right she seems to point to the sky in a serious and mysterious way. The model seems to have the same traits as the ghostly appearance of [von Max's painting] Die Weisse Frau [The White Woman].


The title of the painting, O Mensch gib Acht [Oh Man, Take Heed], is a verse taken from Zarathustra's Rundgesang [“Zarathustra’s Roundelay”], part of the work of Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra [Thus Spoke Zarathustra], which in those years was set to music by Gustav Mahler and inserted in his Symphony No. 3 (1895). But other lines of that composition could have suggested to the artist references to the unconscious world by which he was fascinated: 'Ich schlief, ich schlief, / Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: / Die Welt ist tief, / Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht' ['I slept, I slept, / From a deep dream I woke up: / Deep is the world, / And deeper than the thoughts of the day']."  Mario Finazzi, Arte e Magia at p. 316.




Contact:

The Daulton Collection

info@gabrielvonmax.com