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Female head

Year: probably 1930's
Material: colored red chalk drawing
Dimensions: 63 x 48 cm

In the foreground of the drawing we see the head slightly tilted to the right of a young woman and the approach of the bust. Her long wavy hair which is divided by a center parting is placed behind her left ear and releases part of her neck. Her face is shaped evenly. Accentuated, Fritz Griebel shadows on the face, which awarded him plasticity.

Griebel refused the female figure on characteristics of Hellenistic art. One of the best known works from this period is the "Venus de Milo", with the hairstyle, the quest for realism and the head position has similarities with Griebel woman's head. But while the sculpture seems to consider a date in the distant goal Griebel figure 'looks' with her light blue eyes with no pupils dream lost in the distance.

The dreamlike atmosphere continues in the perspective. The horizon divides the image into a large sky area and a small sea and Erdzone. The turquoise water, which is crossed by red-brown sand banks suggests width. On either side of the young woman standing and sitting three naked women. Their postures as back and front figures are reminiscent of the goddesses of beauty in Greek mythology - the "Three Graces".

Venus de Milo, v. by 130 AD, Parian marble, height 204 cm, Louvre, Paris.
Three Graces, Hellenistic, Roman copy (2nd century?), Restored and complemented by Nicolas Cordier 1609, Louvre, Paris.
Nike antique gold, Cabinet des Médailles, Paris.

In the wide open sky, surrounded by clouds zone two angels are busy trying to lay a wreath on the head of the young woman. The work does not seem easy for them to go out of hand, they have to push and lift to position the already too small wreath right.

Angels are messengers and envoys. Ordered by the gods, they give people their embassies or stand with them as guardian spirits, but also appear as a harbinger of death. These supernatural beings are common in the myths and religions of all pre-and non ancient cultures as well as in the Greco-Roman area as deities or personifications.

In antiquity, angels as intermediaries between God and man is unknown. The gods themselves engage in the life of man or send the messenger Hermes with his winged helmet. Wreath-holding angels appear in antiquity as Niken. A Nike is a Greek deity who personified the victory. It brings the people of the gods in the enemy war or peaceful competition to win. In Greek art of Nike is a female figure with wings. Among her most important attributes kerykeion (caduceus), wreath, taenia count as winners binding, and can sacrifice units.

Raffeal: Sistine Madonna (detail), 1512/13, oil / canvas, 256 x 196 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden.

The angels in our illustration, however, are wingless and male children. You are more likely attributable to the ancient iconography cupids and the modern putti. Cupids and cupids are in Greek mythology sons and companion of Aphrodite, which usually occur in droves. Since 5 Century BC, they are busy. Since the Hellenistic-Roman period they are presented as playful little boy, whose petite figure and cute droll demeanor stand in contrast to her from the everyday gripped or quaintly contrived acts. The cupids playing in the otherwise poor figure decoration Hellenistic pottery a special role.

In the early Italian Renaissance to the 18th Century evolved from the ancient cupids the putti: children stocked with plump rounded, chubby cheeks, rolls of fat on arms and legs, with or without wings in the air, floating on clouds or architectures.

Chirico: Love Song, 1914, Öl/Lwd., Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Griebel's drawing is therefore rich in iconographic references. And yet it leaves us with a puzzle. The artist draws on the repertoire of art history. But he provides no clear sign us. We see in the dream of the young woman, who awarded a crown? Because she is blind, her gaze is directed in their sleep inside. Or is the head of a sculpture? Only under Emperor Hadrian (76-138) sided ancient sculptors eyes with pupils through holes. Then Fritz Griebel had drawn a surreal homage to the ancient world. In particular, the openness of the image, its mysteriousness have Fritz Griebel out as a modern artist. Griebles drawing away with the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico is to compare (1888-1978), the dream-like situations created before a strictly architectural backdrop world with some ancient sculptures.


Antje Buchwald 2013


Wilfried Hansmann: Putten. Worms 2010.
LCI. Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, Bd. 2