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Pictorialism in the fictional miniatures of Albert Paris Gütersloh Laue, Ingrid Elizabeth


The purpose of this study has been to investigate and analyze the "fictional miniatures," i.e., the short prose works, of Albert Paris Gütersloh. The assumption was that a marked interrelationship exists between these and Gütersloh's painted miniatures. Given the fact that Gütersloh was both writer and painter, and since many of the questions which logically arise out of this duality either have not been addressed at all in the scholarly literature on Gütersloh, or dealt with only superficially, it was felt that the approach used in the present study had to focus, to some extent, on the artist's dual talent. The study attempts to illustrate Gütersloh's artistic nature in conjunction with an investigation of one area of artistic expression, namely the short fictional works. The method was one of proceeding from the general to the particular, i.e., by first examining the complex phenomenon of the "painting writer," or "writing painter," as well as the widely discussed notion of "reciprocal illumination" of the arts. This, together with the detailed analysis of scholarly works on Gütersloh as well as his own theoretical writings on art was seen as part of the necessary "anatomy" of the study. Although the narrational quality of the painted miniatures has been alluded to by several other critics, the inherent similarity between Gütersloh's painted and "literary miniatures" (i.e., his short prose works) is being analyzed for the first time in this study. It aims at proving the claim that the former's overriding characteristic is their distinctly narrational quality. As such the paintings are permeated with a writer's imagination, a feature which makes their narrative component as important as the pictorial. Each of these small-scale paintings depicts some crucial point in a "story," thereby forcing the viewer to imagine a "before" as well as an "after" of each specific scene — in other words, to see these paintings in epic terms. By isolating such elements as delineation, framing, staging, setting, and colour (both descriptive and metaphorical) among others, it could be shown that the fictional miniatures give evidence of Gütersloh's persistent inclination to think, and write, in "pictures," hence to work from a largely pictorial conception: the story-line frequently is developed as a series of static "pictures" which are given as much compositional weight as the chronologically progressing plot. It could also be demonstrated that the general phenomenon of Fantastic Realism is a pronounced feature not only of the painted but also of the literary miniatures. The conclusion the study reaches is that Gütersloh's artistic expression, whether as writer or painter, is of a much more unified nature than has previously been argued; that both forms of artistic expression are of a complementary nature, and that this phenomenon is exemplified most succinctly in his fictional miniatures.

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