1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Caspar David Friedrich: Master of mystery

April 6, 2024

From magical beauty to dark melancholy. Silence, longing, and the forces of nature: Caspar David Friedrich created cult paintings and with them gave inspiration to Walt Disney, computer game designers and climate activists. But why did he always paint people from the back?

Caspar David Friedrich | Porträt von Caroline Bardua
Image: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/IMAGO

German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich died in poverty after his works fell out of fashion, but on his 250th birthday he is the artist of the moment.





Wanderer ueber Nebelmeer Friedrich | Caspar David Friedrich 1774-1840
Image: akg-images/picture alliance

Friedrich was a pioneer who still shapes the visual world of today. His most famous painting Wanderer over a Sea of Fog is a favorite of the selfie generation.





Caspar David Friedrich: Zwei Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes, 1823/24Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden
Image: Staatl. Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Friedrich's works focus on loneliness and the sublime and feature transformative encounters with spiritualised nature. They often allude to specific locations but are actually fantasy compositions.





Deutschland, Hamburg | Jubiläumsschau Caspar David Friedrich in der Hamburger Kunsthalle
Image: Marcus Brandt/dpa/picture alliance

Friedrich-mania explained with reference to ten of his most famous paintings. Kitsch or Kunst? And why does the artist always depict people from behind?

Skip next section More from this show
Skip next section About the show

About the show

DW Arts Unveiled (Serienlogo Composite)

Arts Unveiled — Experiencing and understanding the art world

Arts Unveiled dives deep into the international creative scene, uncovering new ideas and explaining cultural phenomena that shape our history, present and future. Who are the artists? What are their greatest works of art? And how are they having an impact? Where can we find their exciting projects?