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Das Gold im neuen Altgeist

Michael Shipman

0.  Prelude


Nordic legends play out along the River Rhine. This powerful and beautiful force of nature creates and molds people and ideas through countless ages. It knows the secrets of the uncreated gold, how it has been sought after and cherished, fought for and stolen. It is the force of blessings and curses, as it is forged in the hands of humans and gods. This is the unchanging center of the story told in this body of artworks. We see Rhine daughters emerging from the depths of the primary colors, moving among the waves of the blue and the gleam of the gold. They become gods and forge the gold into cities and monuments; they are condemned to a life of pain and toil. And they roam the world in search of the gold. The greatest of their cities is Walhalla, and the greatest of the gods is Wotan, the noble one, who gave an eye for power and his days for wandering the earth, striving to attain the gold he could not see.

the Origin

1.  The Cycle Begins

As we embark on a journey through the paintings and drawings in this volume, let us put ourselves in the place of the Rhine daughter in the painting Window.  Blues and reds are lighted by the rising yellow sun, and the girl looks out to the stories that she herself will help form from these colors in the day ahead.  From day to day and age to age, Rhine daughters contend with the primary colors from which they were born, building from them their houses and pathways.  While a countless variety of stories may unfold, the three primary colors are the unchanging center of their creation.


2.  The River Rhine

As the blue recedes from the red, the form of a tree emerges, branded against a yellow sky.  The colors move, creating figures and landscapes.  Blue and yellow create green, covering the trees on the banks of the Rhine, while blue, yellow and red create brown, crafting the limbs of the World Ash Tree.  As the primary colors separate and combine in unceasing motion, the figures move as the colors move them.


the Origin

3.  Walhalla

Craving the power of the golden ring, the Rhine maidens are impelled into a rhythm of zeal and discontent as they strive to grasp it.  Their fervor consumes them, the mysterious power of the ring enthralls them, and they are unable to escape its grip.  With the gold they collect, they become as the gods and build a great city, Walhalla.


the Origin

4.  Waves

As the disturbances move upon the waters, clamoring waves encompass the Rhine daughters, and the river swells over its banks. All of nature is awakened, struggling to contain the forces that unsettle it. Amidst the crashing thunder and roaring waves, the Rhine daughters react in yearning and anguish, remembering the gold that was stolen from them, that once resided with them in the stillness of its warm light.


the Origin
the Origin

5.  The Cycle Continues

The luster of Walhalla shimmers unnaturally over the waters of the River Rhine.  The gods glory in their city, hiding their faces from the cries of the Rhine maidens who yearn for the gold’s return.  As the fiery glimmer of Walhalla beacons to the daughters in the Rhine, they are reminded of the warning of Erda to shun the ring.


5.  The Cycle Ends

The green tree that once stood by the path has been taken away, and the red blaze of the sun upon the rock has set.  The deep blue, the earthy red, and the golden yellow that brought the daughters into existence and protected them in the tumult of the waves now cover them as the gold is returned to the River Rhine.


the Origin
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