Alfred Kubin. Untitled (The Eternal Flame) (Die ewige Flamme). c. 1900

Alfred Kubin Untitled (The Eternal Flame) (Die ewige Flamme) c. 1900

  • Not on view

Kubin created a hallucinatory vision in this work through a subtle play of light across a mysterious subject. The flaming cauldron, with its hint of orange, illuminates a floating skull, the centerpiece of an unknown ritual whose diminutive participants are enveloped and obscured by a foggy veil. In his youth, Kubin apprenticed with a photographer, and the dramatization of darkness and light in this drawing is reminiscent of the techniques and chemistry of photography: this scene emerges out of the shadows much like an image appears on paper in the developer bath of a darkroom.

Although most of his adult life fell within the twentieth century, Kubin’s art belongs to the late-nineteenth-century Austrian Symbolist movement. During this era, many artists and writers perceived a cultural decline across Europe and contemplated the future with apprehension and pessimism. The anxious attitude prevalent in these years, as well as the artist’s personal experiences with grief and isolation, including the death of his mother, influenced his unnerving subject matter. Describing his adolescence, he wrote, “From the start I had found keen pleasure in dwelling in imagination on catastrophe and the upsurge of primeval forces; it was like an intoxication, accompanied by a prickly feeling along my spine.”

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Watercolor and ink on paper
Dimensions
13 x 10 3/4" (33 x 27.3 cm)
Credit
John S. Newberry Collection
Object number
599.1964
Copyright
© 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].