Modern Art
Jakob Steinhardt
Born Germany, active Germany and Israel, 1887–1968
Apocalyptic Landscape
1912
Oil on canvas
81 x 58 cm

Gift of the Steinhardt Bar-On family
Accession number: B10.0004

In 1912 in Berlin, Jacob Steinhardt, Ludwig Meidner, and Richard Janthur established “Die Pathetike” (The Pathetic Ones), a expressionist group active until the beginning of World War I. In the tradition of German Baroque and Gothic art, their work featured drama, movement, and pathos. Steinhardt favored depictions of biblical scenes, particularly those related to the prophets. As a Pathetiker, Steinhardt denounced the wrongs of society, and prophetically warning about imminent disasters.

In Apocalyptic Landscape, Steinhardt builds his composition from Cubist and Futurist inspired, sharp, angular lines and shapes, which express the the idea of apocalypse. This atmosphere is further enhanced by Steinhardt’s expressive brushwork. The thick paint and the evidence of the working tools reveal the artist’s agitated state. The landscape is almost deserted, with hints of ruins in dark, somber colors. The cloudy sky is tinged with flames of fire. This disturbing landscape is inhabited only by a ravaged tree trunk and two distorted bodies bathed in an eerie light. The elongated figures recall El Greco’s stylized figures, which Steinhardt had seen in Europe.

Publications: Kamien-Kazhdan, Adina (ed.), Modernism in Dialogue: 20th-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Israel Museum, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2010

Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem