Instadeath: Cloister Graveyard in the Snow

7:00 AM

Cloister Graveyard in the Snow
Curated by Alex McDonald

Caspar David Friedrich, Cloister Graveyard in the Snow,  1819

*Curator’s Note: The paintings within this collection were taken by the author to be artwork for the album covers of a fictional metal band called Instadeath. The following is Instadeath fan mail.

Dear Instadeath,

I cried out in sheer joy when I heard your new album Cloister was being released soon. I then almost sacrificed a goat to your new nihilist god when I heard you were using Caspar David Friedrich’s Cloister Graveyard in the Snow. You’re gonna think I’m odd, but if there are two things I love in this world they are good metal and a good Friedrich painting.

I know you probably won’t read my letter read because its fan mail. You get thousands of letters a day, but I am writing with purpose. Your career has mimicked my high school career in art history. Your career has also produced great metal, which I love any day of the week. You see, I have been on this two year journey to combine the art history and metal (completely against my art history teacher’s wishes) in our class blog site. The first blog post I ever did was on Friedrich’s Cloister Ruins at Eldena. The reason I picked Cloister Ruins at Eldena was because I thought the house below the ruins looked like the shack on the cover of Black Sabbath’s debut album, Black Sabbath (1970). The color scheme certainly looks the same. Since that blog post, Friedrich has been my favorite painter. Maybe it’s because he was the first painter I ever looked at, maybe it’s because I like solitude and nature, but, nonetheless, no other painter has captivated me like Friedrich has.

I mentioned in that first blog post how Friedrich inserted the edifice of an old monastery into three of his paintings (Cloister Ruins at Eldena, Abbey in an Oak Grove, and Cloister Graveyard in the Snow). This was his favorite building to paint and these have been my favorite paintings to discuss. As of now, I have written posts on all three of the monastery pieces (this letter will be published on the blog, if the band wants to check it out). The first blog on Eldena held little more than biographical information on Friedrich while the Abbey post I did earlier this year spoke of the wonderful time I’d had so far studying art history at Barstow. It’s funny to look back on earlier times and see how much my approach to these posts have changed. I would never have even dared to mention metal in that first post (much less be funny), but look at me now. So for all those who will be new to art history blogging next year, be adventurous. Find the fun in this. It makes homework entertainment.

As for the Cloister Graveyard, I love the whiteness to it. White covers the floor, outlines the tree branches, highlights the monastery edifice, and engulfs the sky. This white looks pure, despite being the death delivering winter Friedrich was in the midst of when he painted this. My first post mentions he finished this piece while battling a severe illness that would eventually claim his life. The dead trees offset the white’s purity. These dead trunks make the piece eerie (along with the tombstones) and perfect for the latest Instadeath album cover. But the two trees in the foreground frame the edifice perfectly. The funeral procession heads right through the doorway towards the ruined monastery. I want to say the monastery represented something to Friedrich, something that he thought of at all stages in his life. Something that he finally achieved in his old age, or possibly the monastery is death; a force always lingering in the background of his art and in the back of his mind. This force probably now seemed like a real possibility for Friedrich in his old age.

So that’s the end… of this letter, of the Instadeath discography, and of my art history blog posts. Instadeath, I hope you liked this letter. You guys seem to have an appreciation for art along with a creative spark that makes your metal so awesome. To all my readers, I hoped I made you laugh and think once in a while. Hopefully I taught you something (be it about metal or art, in my opinion the two are synonymous). To my art history class, thank you for teaching me new ways of looking at art, and consequently the world. I’ll never be an art historian, but there is power in being able to stop, look at a painting, and tell yourself how it makes you feel and why. This power allows you to know yourself better.

Alex McDonald

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