Referencing yesterday’s piece, Hans Thoma’s mournful ‘Auf der Waldwiese,’ I’m not ready to leave the gloomy meadows quite just yet. ‘One World’ by Austrian painter Maximilian Lenz is also set within a pasture and conveying a sense of melancholy, but aside from those similarities these two works couldn’t be any more different. While ‘Waldwiese’ is firmly set on our worldly plane, ‘One World’—for me, at least—has a mystic quality that speaks to the spirt.
Upon first viewing ‘One World’ I noted its murky use of the color as well as the lively dancing on display by the group of ladies in the background. These elements create a wonderful contrast, presenting us both joy and sadness as a reminder that one is often accompanied by the other. That said, the drab palette seems better suited to reflect the emotional state of our gentleman in the foreground, who appears deep in thought as he strides through grass with cigarette in hand. Based on his clothing and demeanor, his presence in this grassy field strikes me unusual though not entirely implausible. Whatever the case, he seems to be a stranger passing through unfamiliar territory.
One would think that this man was oblivious—or perhaps even ignoring—the four beautiful women approaching him to his left. These four are wearing transparent dresses which are a lighter shade of blue than those worn by the other women in the background. They are also holding wreaths over their heads, which leads me to believe they are having a pagan celebration, or that their role in this painting is meant to symbolize the natural world. They appear both alluring and vibrant, while the man seems to have coldly retired within himself.
I am to guess these four ladies are inviting him to join their gathering, though he doesn’t seem particularly interested, or is trying to resist. The colors green and blue, which I normally identify with earth and life, are muted throughout in this painting, perhaps indicating that our gentleman has tuned out the natural world. Maybe the four women, bearing that beautiful light-blue which gently illuminates through the gloominess of the pasture, are offering to pull him back out of his despair.