Fritz Gartner, Schwebebahn (Cologne), 1908
28.75 x 37.5 in.
Fritz Gartner (1882-1958) was a German artist originally from Sudetenland. After studying in Munich, Gartner moved to Cologne to work as a magazine illustrator. Gartner worked in a range of styles, with landscapes resembling Impressionism toward the beginning of his career, but later finding his own voice in a number of idealized landscapes. Gartner also frequently demonstrated an interest in industrial development, which this painting certainly fits with. Schwebebahn means an elevated or suspended railway, as seen here traveling towards the viewer. The famed Cologne Cathedral appears in the background. The railroad itself, with its many struts and supports, and the railroad bridge behind it, have a rather futuristic feel, with the bright lights appearing somewhat unsettling. Gartner used unusual colors blended together (such as the green glow that seems to emanate from the metal) give the scene a fantastical touch. This piece is done in pastels, which have a smooth texture that adds to the hazy, dream-like tone of the piece. With the cathedral in the background and the simple boat in the foreground floating unmoored on the Rhone, the piece is an exploration of the juxtaposition of modern and traditional ways of life, along with a sense of disbelief at the advancement of technology.