KHNOPFF, Fernand
(b. 1858, Termonde, d. 1921, Bruxelles)


Pastels on paper
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

The photos served Khnopff as memory and documentation of themes that he worked on in certain paintings. In Memoires (Memories), for instance, he used photos of his sister Marguerite to assemble several views of her in a collage amidst a new environment. Seven young women, dressed trendily, are standing in a park-like landscape, executed in sketchy brushwork in contrast to the detailed rendering of the figures. Khnopff has drawn the figure group directly according to photos of his sister Marguerite and arranged them in front of the background like a collage, with forgoing a cast shadow deliberately.

Six of the women are holding a tennis racket, but they do not play tennis, which was about to become popular at that time. Instead, they are standing paralyzed without communicating with each other and staring into the nothingness, every single one appears like caught in her world. The picture is filled with the melancholic atmosphere of an autumn afternoon and reflects bygone moments that rise from a subjective inner world and superimpose the objective outer world. In Memoires, Khnopff suspends the unity of space, time and narrative and makes his sister, multiplied by the magic number seven, become a forerunner of the lonely manichini by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), one of the originators of Pittura Metafisica.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.