Art & Design Magazine

Dark Night of the Soul: the Art of Felix Meseck

By Adventuresintheprinttrade
Felix Meseck was born in Danzig in 1883, and died in Holzminden in 1955. Meseck studied at the Fine Art Academies in Berlin and Königsberg, studying painting under Ludwig Dettmann and printmaking with Heinrich Wolff. In 1926 he was appointed professor at the Weimar Academy, a post from which he was forced out by the Nazis. Before WWI, in which he served at the front as an ordinary soldier, Meseck concentrated on painting; after the war he turned to printmaking, becoming especially known for his etchings and drypoints. Meseck was a member of the Berlin Secession, and contributed to leading journals such as Ganymed, as well as illustrating works by Shakespeare, Goethe, Novalis, and Brentano. Much of Felix Meseck's work was destroyed in the Red Army attack on Danzig in 1945.
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, LandschaftEtching, 1920s
Felix Meseck's art is a curious blend of Expressionism, Romanticism and Symbolism, with a forlorn, desolate quality at its heart. His spiky, unsettling line is the opposite of everything fluid, supple, and sensuous. Instead there is a sense of jarred nerves and watchful unease. The overriding impression is one of neurasthenia, and I would not be at all surprised to discover that Meseck suffered from shell-shock (post-traumatic stress) after his experiences in WWI. His art has that hyper-aware inability to relax. The trees that are a recurring motif in his art certainly bring to mind the ravaged landscapes of WWI. Whether depicting landscapes or symbolic groups of people, there is something in Felix Meseck's work that speaks of unreachable loss. The people in his etchings for Hymnen an die Nacht seem disorientated and desperate, like the displaced and bereaved of war. This work was published very soon after the end of WWI, in 1919, and would certainly have carried that emotional charge for Meseck's contemporaries. It was printed at Gurlitt-Presse and published by Fritz Gurlitt in an edition of 125 copies, of which 50 were printed on heavyweight handmade wove paper, with all ten etchings hand-signed by the artist.
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht IEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht IIEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht IVEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht VEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht VIEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht VIIEtching, 1919
Dark night of the soul: the art of Felix MeseckFelix Meseck, Hymnen an die Nacht IXEtching, 1919
There was a retrospective exhibition of the art of Felix Meseck at the Museum Höxter Corvey in 1987.

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