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The Gothic Horror landscapes: From Marcus Larson to Goth – Göteborgs konstmuseum

The Gothic Horror landscapes: From Marcus Larson to Goth
September 20–January 25, 2015

The aim of this exhibition, in which the Gothic horror landscape of Romanticism met the fantasy landscapes from computer games and album covers of heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Dio, Entombed and Dark Tranquility at the Gothenburg Museum of Art, was to see both past and present Gothic terror-romance in a new light. During the era of Modernism, the art world’s interest in the emotionality of Romanticism waned, but in popular culture it has endured and become wide-spread.

Not everyone knows that Gothic terror-romance is a visual genre with roots in Romantic literature and visual art from the 1700s and 1800s. As early as at the beginning of the 19th century, authors like Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Victor Hugo thoroughly investigated this thematic field in novels like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. In visual art it was expressed in the form of landscape paintings featuring dark forests, threatening storms and streaming water, occasionally with added gloomy castles, monastery ruins and damp burial chambers.

The exhibition also provided a broader presentation of the Swedish artist Marcus Larson (1825–1864). Thanks to his fate – the man from a simple background who became famous but died young, burnt out and destitute – he embodies the Romantic conception of the artistic genius. His works were sold for mind-boggling sums but his lifestyle was self-destructive. He was unable to hold on to his substantial earnings and ended his days in poverty in London at the age of only 39. Marcus Larson had no equal in making the most innocent forest glade seem ominous. In his landscapes, he stages a battle between chaos and order that is highly relevant in our time.

Caption: Marcus Larson, Steamer in Flames, mid-1800s, Gothenburg Museum of Art.
See the whole work here