Tinzen Blue

“I dream of a Tinzen picture at sunset, just the mountain, blue against blue, very simple.”

Between 1915 and 1917, the expressionist painter E. L. Kirchner spent time in various sanitaria, where he was treated for “lung affliction and weakness,” the physical expression of an inward agitation brought on by his experience of the war.

One of the places where Kirchner was treated was located in Davos, the site of the sanatorium in The Magic Mountain. The above quotation, taken from Kirchner’s diary from the period, refers to the Tinzenhorn, a mountain that was the subject of many of his paintings and photographs, and one of a number of alpine features which are pointed out to Hans Castorp, the main protagonist of The Magic Mountain, when he first arrives at the International Sanatorium Berghof:

“And over there, to the right of the Schwarzhorn, on that jagged peak there, is a glacier for you – can you still see the blue? It’s not that big, but it’s a textbook glacier, the Scaletta Glacier. And there’s Piz Michel and Tinzenhorn in that gap.” (MM, 9)

Common to both accounts is the colour blue, a property repeated in Mann’s authorial description of the Berghof’s alpine environment; “the mountains in the more distant background, where the valley tapered to an end, were a sober slate blue.” (MM, 9) All these are referenced in my painting Tinzen Blue made for The Horizontal Within, The Horizontal Without, a six foot by one foot work, based upon the above photograph that Kirchner took, in 1919, of the alpine peaks from his home on the Stafelalp, looking south towards the Tinzenhorn.

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