Der rote Blick (The red gaze), 1910.


Arnold Schönberg

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
July 25–April 28

When the New York Times cautioned its readers in 1913 about SCHOENBERG, MUSICAL ANARCHIST, WHO HAS UPSET EUROPE, it didn’t neglect to mention that the composer “also paints gray-green landscapes and sickly visions, the latter dug up from the abysmal depths of his subconsciousness.” One era’s warning is another’s hype. Today, Schönberg’s paintings—seen here in a show of around 150 canvases, more than half his entire output—are valued precisely because these psychologically unedited works look more like outsider art than like correlatives of the notoriously abstruse “second Viennese school” of composition. Indeed, the paintings’ rawness might serve as a corrective to our ears, which have been trained to hear the anarchy of Schönberg’s twelve tones as a coolly intellectual “system.”