IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Mirela Ramljak Purgar
Intermediality in pictures: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Croatian expressionism

Not only expressionist art influenced moving images in the beginning of the 20th century, but film influenced painting as well. This is the main issue I would like to stress by analysing the painting Cynic from 1921, by Croatian artist Vilko Gecan. Some authors (Eisner, Scheunemann) agree on the presumption that expressionism in film developed late and that the paradigmatic example of it would be Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari from 1919/1920. This paper presumes that the painting mentioned above shows expressionist influences from both thematic (the Double, the lunatic), and formal side (a particular style, definition of space). Focusing on paintings and prints of the members of the ‘Brücke’ on the one hand, and film posters and scenes from Dr. Caligari on the other, it becomes possible to proclaim Gecan’s painting as the paradigmatic example of the visual representation of the (Croatian) reception of the expressionist film. Thus not only that particular aspect of the whole Weimar’s cinema would be affirmed, but now this fraction of the Croatian art could also be recognized (even though appearing late – compared to German expressionist art) as a legitimate ramification of the more general expressionist style: as a direct comment on the "entrance" of expressionist art into film and appropriate reverse process.