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FRANZ STASSEN (1869-1949)

The Aryan Ideal

Appropriated by the Nazis, the artwork of Franz Stassen became a symbol for aryan ideals of the upcoming Nazi Germany.

Franz Stassen and Arthur Rackham were the most eminent illustrators to Richard Wagner's operas. In thrilling contrast to the light and joyful artwork of Arthur Rackham, Stassen's illustrations to Tristan and Isolde, Parsifal and the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen are both very weird and threatening.

Stassens Ring cycle is the first large complete Germanic myth created by the means of the artist... Germanic religion is religion of Nature. In the change of the seasons, in the life of nature Germanics feel the God's will, see the realization of the divine Fate.

Thus for Stassen the world of Germanic God originates completely from natural causes. The Rhinemaidens take human shapes out of the play of the flowing Rhine streams; the demonic Alberich, master of the darkness, appears from the red glowing of underwater vapours.

The castle of Walhalla literally grows from the powerful dolomite cliffs, it is enveloped by the light clouds; the sky is full of bright shining stars. The fresh breath of the spring night breaks into the Hundings cabin and the spring chants with blessings its full silvery spell for the Walsungs.

Germanic religion is the one of sun and light, of the faith in the final victory of the Good against the Ugly. Thus Stassen's Licht Alben are painted in light colours, they radiate brightly, in deep contrast to the shades in the realm of the night of Schwarzalberichs. Thus the Germanic religion becomes the faith of the heroes. The Germanic people character finds its reflection in its mythology: Fighters and Winners are its Gods, stormy and restless and, if need be, to laugh with death is their nature. They are nothing but in the images of the superhuman. Stassen paints its external features; it is the ideal Germanic human being, that presents to us clad in the strong superhuman bodies of steel.

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