Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach
di Harm Wulf
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach nacque il 21 February 1851 Hadamar in a small town in the German state of Hesse, which was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Nassau. The father Leonhard, professor of drawing at the local school and himself a painter of some renown, was the first master of the boy who, from an early age, manifested a strong inclination for drawing and painting. His education was also strongly influenced by a distant relative named Lorenz, Catholic priest, anthropologist and novelist. This man caught, intelligent and open-minded to the possibility of enrichment that could also come from other religions, praised the depth of the young artist starting it towards a mysticism that, later led him, Theosophy. A vent’anni, to continue his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Diefenbach moved to Monaco of Bavaria in the Schwabing district one of the centers, together in Berlin, where they gathered the artists of the German. Immediately fits into the city's artistic beginning to receive positive praise and criticism in the press. In the two years 1873-74 had spent several months at the Duke of Nassau, his patron, in order to draw the family beginning to resent the conventionalism and the falsity of the environment aristocratic and bourgeois. His father dies and, shortly after, Mother. Just after these misfortunes, the artist is hit by a strong form of typhoid fever and must stay in the hospital for two years in Monaco. From this terrible experience, the artist comes shortly after marrying one of his nurses. The first is weak and sickly child until the father decides not to expose it to sunlight. Called Helios as a thank you to the solar force. This is followed by his daughter Stella and the third son lucidus. In 1874, Also as a result of long-term illness, began taking his artistic philosophy and existential through a pattern of life that leads the artist wing complete renunciation of superfluous and turn covered with a long tunic floating, the forehead naked, with sandals on his feet. His preaching messianic advocates the profound unity between art and exemplary life, nudism and anti-militarism, vegetarianism, openly accusing the explosive social contradictions and moral epoch of Germany, all aimed at industrialization and rearmament. In this sense Diefenbach is definitely the main forerunner of the movement of Lebensreform that will develop in the German-speaking world in the late nineteenth century, indicating a third alternative the mammonism of capitalist society and materialism of the organizations of the working class. In this movement will coexist opposition to traditional medicine and the affirmation of a natural medicine (sunbathing, air and light, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, gymnastics in the nude, reform of clothing and food, expressive dance); the reaction to the hegemony of the technique, industry and urbanization; the affirmation of the inseparable unity of body and soul, and the rediscovery of the aesthetic beauty of the body and its exploitation and celebration in a pure nature and purifying. In larger cities, the dense concentration of people created abnormal phenomena such as poverty, alcoholism and prostitution; they created a celebration of, Eat Taormina, Corfu, Capri, the Monte Verita near Ascona (1), it was possible for a renewal not only social but also religious and spiritual. Diefenbach says "Diseases, misery, crimes of all kinds, prostitution and degeneration, murder and suicide, massacre that cries to heaven called "war" are the natural consequences of the injustice of society, irreligion institutions, alienation from God ".
The message Diefenbach creates broad support among the population and many young people began to follow his rules of life. After the famous sermon "On the origins of human misery," he was forbidden to speak in public. Obviously this makes him unpopular with the authorities unleashed against a real smear campaign in the media. "Perverting and corrupting the youth", "Troublemaker and crazy", "Kohlrabi Apostles" (apostle-Rapa) are some of the slanderous accusations that newspapers ask him attacking at the same time his work of art, play and falsely accused of being at the service of his message subversive of the established order. The 10 February 1882 on top of a mountain, during a vigil, the artist has a vision that will change the course of its existence. Scanning the horizon from the top of Hohenpeißenberg, while observing the decline of the day the ice of the Alps, Diefenbach receives the message that will transform it permanently apostle of nature:
"God is within you! The sky and heaven, house of your spirit, of your soul, Blessed magnificence of the earth, the eternal incommensurability of the universe lie hidden in every human breast as germs! Know Thyself! Only the knowledge of your divinity frees you from the constraints and the curse of the error, by crime and misery with no name, from ruin yourself and Mother Earth! You know men your mother, La Natura, the more free and pure wisdom for men, the uncorrupted source of your nobility free from original sin, curse and damage. Know thyself man!”
In 1885 Lascia Monaco, also as a result of the environment hostile, and settled, poco dopo time, in an abandoned quarry to the legendary Steinbruchhaus Höllriegelskreuth in the valley dell'Isaar. At the head of his patriarchal family, his wife and three children, begins to realize the dream of an artistic laboratory in which to lead an exemplary life.
The living conditions were harsh and also Diefenbach continued preaching and exercises in the nude. The police authorities placed around the laboratory and subjected him to the first trial in history for nudism. He was sentenced to prison twice, commuted as a result of heavy fines. In 1887 is the first meeting with the painter Hugo Höppener (1868 – 1948, http://www.thule-italia.com/arte/Fidus/Fidus.html ) who became one of his disciples, and that will be called by the artist Fidus, the faithful. Fidus says that his first encounter with the artist: "When the 'Master Diefenbach' came towards us affably on the green terrace, her figure dignified immediately inspired me a deep respect. After Brixel, with whom to discuss eliminated entertained with great composure, if not fu andato, I obviously stood and Diefenbach began to talk about his plans and his lonely struggle, arguments fully responsive to my thoughts and my aspiration. I passionately declared supporter of his cause, although he tried to convince me of his unfortunate fate, of his suffering for the mistakes of the old culture, the lack of resources and especially the solitude of the shelter that had left him a benevolent owner. These reasons did nothing but increase in me the belief that I should cooperate to ensure a brilliant artist dedicated himself to his work and his humanitarian work. As I seemed petty compared to the purely artistic aspirations of the Academy and the affectation of fellow students. I prayed Diefenbach could become his student, and he consented moved. In the lab where I stopped for the night, the teacher showed me the works that sketchy, not only for their simple 'trend' but also for the pictorial effect and style completely new, they left behind all the art pre-existing. Also pointed out to me the good studies from life of youth, Academy of the period and the years of isolation. Then fate ate bread in the house and drank fresh spring water: this was his food because he had not even the money to buy fruit from the farmers or land products, although fruit, bread and nuts were his ideal power. Made up for with the little that passed Brixel: vegetable, barley and a carboy with a surplus of oil of arachid. ".
In 1889, confirming the credit enjoyed in the artistic circles, the painter was invited to hold an exhibition in Monaco in the halls of Kunstgewerbehall for whom he had great success with audiences and critics. At the end of the year happened a severe episode. The wife annoyed by the difficulties of existence in Höllriegelskreuth tried to poison him and then subtract the children accusing him of madness. Tired, sick and only the artist moved to Walfrathausen at Dorfen where, borrowing founded a new studio-commune called "Humanitas, workshop for Religion, art and science "a special community of about 25 men and women who sought to live in accordance with the ideas of the artist. In 1891 the artist held a major exhibition of paintings at the gallery Löwengrube of Monaco which was attended wineskin 80.000 visitors including the imperial family. In the meantime, his wife died and the artist was able to embrace the three sons Helios, Lucidos and star with whom he moved to Vienna where he had through the involvement of the merchant Karl Mauer, the proposta a esporre at Kunstverein. The hospitality of the city was among the best: at his first show, in January 1892, in fact, noticed all the nobility, the upper middle class and the intellectual environment showed that along with the print to appreciate the works of the master and the spirit that the implied, so much so that he received an invitation to the court of Emperor Franz Joseph. His fame spread internationally, but a series of disputes with the director of the Kunstverein, that it intended to impose the themes of the paintings, induced him to leave for the south in June 1895. He travels through the massive Karwandel to Lake Garda then head to Cairo in Egypt. He returned to Vienna in 1897 finding a different climate from the previous: great artistic and cultural ferment of the period allow real campaign in defense of persecuted artist. Already a supporter of theosophical thought along with his disciple Fidus, Diefenbach comes into contact with Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels director of the magazine "Ostara" and became one of the servants of the Order of New Templars (2). After a short period of serenity, take up the controversy and the attacks of the press. Evicted from her home, declared partially incapacitated, avoided by all, persecuted by the authorities in February 1899 finally decides to leave the city to return to Egypt, but the economic difficulties do stop in Trieste where, with the help of future son Paul Ritter von Spaun, attempted to transfer the last exhibition held in Vienna. In Trieste, over exposure of his works the artist created the frieze along 70 meters for the transatlantic Austrian Franz Ferdinand Este. Even that was only one step in Trieste because, after living for some time in an abandoned fortress, in 1900 decided to come to Italy and moved permanently on the island of Capri. The island turned out for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration: "Capri enough for me for life with these rugged cliffs that I love, with this terrible, beautiful sea although, é in verità, I suffer the martyrdom of the boycott of my fellow countrymen coming here that move against me shameful accusations of immorality and impiety. ". A Capri, in the thirteen years of residence, produce many works in his atelier in Via Camerelle, at the current residence, and then into the building occupied today by the restaurant "Campanile". The island of the early '900 is a crossroads of people and cultures drawn for various reasons attracted by the landscapes of Capri. Diefenbach lives largely isolated in spite of the hostility of the population. His imposing figure, the monastic way of dressing, the agitated sermons on the square of the funicular earned him the ironic and derogatory judgments by intellectuals and commoners. Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach muore il 13 December 1913 to an attack of peritonitis and his work slips into disregard and contempt. In the Catholic cemetery of Capri is also buried his son who died on Helios 3 July 1950. The large paintings of the artist remained until 1931 in the study are transferred to the Certosa di San Giacomo di Capri, where for years are left to decay, vandalism and looting. Only in the early 70s, for the interest of Mr. Fridolin Friedrich von Spaun, son of Stella Diefenbach, the works are saved and donated to the Italian state. The commitment of Prof. Raffaello Causa, Superintendent of Historical Heritage of Campania, allows the realization in 1974 Museum Diefenbach in some rooms of the Certosa di San Giacomo. There are contained 31 TV, 5 sculture in gesso, and a portrait of the painter painted by Ettore Ximenes. At the museum of the city of Hadamar (www.hadamar.de/kultur/museum/index2.htlm) in Hesse is possible to view the frieze of 68 meters entitled "Per Aspera ad Astra" (3) with its sequence of silhouettes dancing and musicians, children, animals and exotic figures that is in close proximity to the work of Max Klinger.
(1) On the history of the community of Monte Verità in Ascona see the fundamental article of Philippe Baillet "Monte Verità, 1900 – 1920 an "alternative community" between völkisch movement and artistic avant-garde "in Novelle Ecole n. 52 year 2001 and the catalog of the museum Casa Anatta Monte Verità Ascona Various Authors Municipal Museum "Monte Verità - The breasts of Truth" And. Electa Milano - Ed. Armando Dadò, Locarno 1978. On the hill of Monescia (Lake Maggiore near Locarno) was opened by 1981 a permanent museum on the history of Monte Verità (such. 091 7910181), which collects a significant amount of artifacts (everyday objects, clothing, documentation, Photos, etc..) related to the events of that alternative community was involved in this experience socio-political, arts and culture. The center mussale has found place in the Casa Anatta (Truth) which was the residence and headquarters of the community and in the House Selma (hut light air-vegetarians). Also in this same area there is another accommodation facility rebuilt in wood 1986 to preserve the painting "Paradise" by the painter Elisar von Kupffer large round canvas. Monte Verità - Museum, 6612 Ascona, Tel Svizzera: +41 (0)91 791 01 81 Fax: +41 (0)91 780 51 35 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's The Occult Roots of Nazism Sugarco Editions, 1993, the. 167
(3) At the Publishing House The Conch, Via Le Botteghe 12, 80073 Capri (NA) www.laconchigliacapri.com E-mail: email@example.com available volume of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach Per Aspera ad Astra - Capri 1900 -Madness is an island. Foreword by M. Buonuomo. Testo Tedesco forward. Box size 27 x 19 containing the poetic text and the frieze along about 6 meters. The frieze is reproduced on paper in various colors Rusticus.