Pia Fries and the Capriccio

Gunda Luyken

“Art and nature shall always be wrestling.”1

— Maria Sibylla Merian

Just like “fabelfakt,”2 “burning ice” and “black snow” are rhetorical figures in which opposite, indeed contradictory terms give rise to a phrase that one might refer to as “harmonious discord,” but also as “discordant harmony.” In literature, the oxymoron— from the Greek oksús for sharp(-witted) and moros for dull or foolish—is utilized to achieve dramatic heightening effects or to bring complete opposites together in one term. In the field of visual art, something comparable occurs in the capriccio. According to Werner Busch, the capriccio is the question mark behind certainties.3 It thrives on whimsical turnabouts, hence on developing an illusion and subsequently destroying it. It first attracts viewers and then causes them to fall into a hole. But what is concealed in the depths is the inscrutable, the disproportionate, the insane. The capriccio seems harmless and invites us to play a game, but when we engage with it we are subject to its rules and the ground falls out from underneath our feet.

The capriccio arose from the desire to question the boundaries of art in a playful manner. This became possible as of around 1500, when a level of reflection that also saw art as an intellectual act was reached in the Renaissance. Furnished with the self-awareness required to master all means of depiction, from then on it was possible for artists—insofar as they were able to make clear that they were deliberately breaking the rules—to also express things that normally fell under the verdict of the impossible in a sort of dialectical game. The experimentation with artistic means in the capriccio results in the exposing of their autonomy. They are now available to be filled with new contents individually. Art in contradiction and pursuing ongoing innovation through creative fantasy: this is the freedom of the capriccio.4 This freedom also distinguishes the works of Pia Fries, in which the world develops à rebours, against the grain, into a comprehensive alternative concept that counters conventional art practices with multilayered dimensions and gives rise to open spaces by means of divergences.

The capriccio, the grotesque, and the rocaille are closely connected with one another and can frequently be encountered in the ornament. Although the ornament performs a function, it allows the fantasy open spaces that go far beyond the standard range.5 In graphic variations, it tries out the possibilities of no longer being mere embellishment, but also appearing as its own reality in nature. In particular the French and German ornamental capriccios of the eighteenth century, the era of Rococo, outdo reality, negate gravity, turn architectural arrangements upside down, combine the natural and the artificial, and make the one emerge from the other. Between the capriccio and the way in which Pia Fries engages with painting, it is possible to notice striking parallels.

Fries studied with Gerhard Richter at the Kunstakademie (Art Academy) Düsseldorf from 1980 to 1986. Richter’s painterly work revolves around two diametrically opposed poles: realistic photo pictures and large, color-intensive abstractions, in which he has been combining contradictory painterly elements with one another in complexly layered paintings since the mid-1970s. Fries had the opportunity to observe the ongoing alternation in the work of her teacher and to learn that a work can be representational, figurative, abstract, and realistic at the same time. The young artist must have perceived Richter’s “I can do anything” as a challenge.6
Her paintings are characterized by a combination and interpenetration of heterogeneous elements, a direct use of color, pleasure in experimentation, and a search for new, resistant forms of expression. Color is an essential element in her painting. It can comprise dense mass, a fluid trace, or a play of textures, factures, and recurring forms. In Fries’s work, paint is not only positioned next to paint, but also shaken, stirred, kneaded, crimped, pounded, carved, scratched off, or cut off so that hues are intentionally blended in streaks and whirls, while removed portions reveal the process-oriented production and the inside turned outward. Fries’s works draw attention to the painting layer. To this day, painters have become famous for their skill in reproducing the surface structure of various materials. Jan Brueghel the Elder was able, for example, to reproduce velvet so accurately that he was given the sobriquet “Velvet Brueghel,” because one was able to literally see the texture of the velvet.7 Fries, in contrast, does not show her skill as a painter by reproducing visible characteristics, but instead makes the materiality of the application of paint itself an essential element in her presentation. In her work, paint is applied so heavily that it appeals to the sense of touch. We see qualities such as weight and pressure, which are normally perceived tactiley. The artist herself speaks of the “balance” of her pictures or of the “eye as a weighing instrument.”8 She of course does not expect that we will actually touch her works, but she does succeed in making us aware that seeing is also a type of activity. René Descartes compared active seeing with blind people who find their way with a cane.9 Just as the hands of the sightless receive stimuli via a cane, the eye receives impulses via light that is carried by the air. “Seeing by means of a cane” is the conceptual euphemism for seeing in Descartes’s text. With her molded paint, which she regards as a solid substance, Fries presents the sense of touch as an embodiment of human sight: seeing with one’s hands rather than with Descartes’s cane. In Fries’s work, a picture is hence no longer a display, a window through which one looks at an object from a relative distance, but rather a layer that raises something into the space of viewers and enables it to be touched visually.

The desire to structure paint demands a counterpart, requires that “fact” merges with “fable” to some extent. Since the 1990s, the artist has used the opaque, white surface of her picture carrier for this—initially elastic canvases, later wood panels prepared with a nontransparent, white, chalk ground, and time and again paper. In her works, white is a color that is ascribed the same significance as nonwhite. It is neither solely the pictorial ground nor a color space, neither a frame nor an empty space. White remains in the background and forms an effective contrast to weighty colors. It found its way into her painterly oeuvre via works on paper, which Fries always creates concurrent with painting.10

In the late 1990s, Fries’s pictures became more complex. The group of works parsen und module of 1999 (figs. pp. 10–21), which starts the exhibition in Düsseldorf, resembles a showpiece in which one theme is played through in thirty variations, with linguistic as well as painterly mastery. All the works measure 40 × 50 cm, and the titles consistently begin with the syllable “par,” the Latin word for “equal” or “appropriate.”11 Within the series, a subgroup of pictures is structured based on the Latin word “pars” for “share,” another subgroup based on the French “part” for “proportion.” From these initial syllables arise names such as “parseppi” or “partnulle,” in which the remaining part of the title opens up a grotesque language game. Many of the humorous neologisms cannot be traced back to existing terms, but their structure and sound nonetheless give rise to metaphorical associations that are reflected in the works. The picture surface of parcela (fig. p. 15) is hence divided up into parcels, while the paint in parolle is curled into a “C-curve.” In parsen und module, it is not only the sense of touch that is activated, but also the sense of hearing as an additional instrument of perception.

In terms of paint, the artist experimented in this group of works with a varnish-like application, whereby she wiped away the dried paint again so that only traces of it remain visible. The delicate remnants of paint appear matte, like a copy on paper, and behave like light, disembodied shadows with respect to the impasto clumps of paint. Here, mass and weightlessness enter into a refined game as a result of the lightweight paint being arranged under the thick paint, thus suspending the laws of physics.12 Although Fries frequently adheres to the insights of complementary contrast in her visually weighted order, she confidently flouts numerous other rules of classic art theory. Her painting is fragile and not supported by any absolute logic, yet she does follow rules: her own rules, such as a combinatory process and the strategy of metamorphosis. The group of works parsen und module thus resembles Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Scherzi di Fantasia, which were first published in 1749 and later became known under the title Capricci.13 What is rendered visible in them is the gradual emergence of the unconscious, which ultimately culminates in the discovery of a new reality. Even though the topic is ambiguous, variation, the tendency to continue one rhythm over more than one work, also plays a role here. In the Capricci, what are dealt with first and foremost are spatial representations. Plate nine of the Scherzi (fig. 1, p. 24), for example, shows not only a juxtaposition of naked, absolute beauty and a hunchbacked, masked Polichinelle—the topic of sensuality is addressed here as well—but also a series of closely staggered, merely implied heads in the background, whereby it remains unclear how they should be thought of spatially and whether we are looking at faces or masks.14 In addition, it is possible to see a fallen tree trunk, which visually breaks up an altar-like pedestal. The course of the tree is also uncertain; one scarcely knows what one is supposed to see anymore. Tiepolo’s surprises, like those of Fries, go far beyond the meaningful. As a preeminent illusionist of late-Baroque painting, in the Capricci he makes appearance become uncertainty. He no longer regards his task as narrating stories, but, like Fries as well, as depicting conditions and striking a tone.

As in Tiepolo’s work, one has no longer been able to know what one is supposed to see in Fries’s oeuvre since she began incorporating photographic elements in her painting. Photography represents objectivity and a depictive character. In Fries’s work, it is interwoven with painting in such a way that realities are shifted and that the pictures reproduced ultimately assert the uniqueness of painting. It is possible to illustrate this based on the example of beringer, 2002 (fig. p. 58). In it, Fries opened up the opaque, white picture ground into the depth at some points. Originally trained as a sculptor, she looks at paint with her own eyes and here first made the kneaded paint sculptures grow upward in an isolated manner. She gave them a round opening leading into a bottomless abyss, implying depth. Fries dealt with her painting media here as malleable materials into which she is also able to go inside, once again demonstrating that paint is a material that can be handled in a number of ways. She then positioned the modeled clumps of paint on a mirror, which doubled their form. It was important to her that the mirror produces a form that does not exist in reality. This form was photographed, the motif isolated from its context, and then printed in various colors and arrangements on the white-primed picture carrier by means of silkscreen. On the right half of beringer, the same clumps of paint appear two times: in yellow and blue at the top right, and, slightly rotated, in an orangey-yellow at the bottom right. Even though the mountains of paint initially seem harmless, they give rise to “harmonious discord.” Upon closer examination, they shimmer like a picture puzzle between the two halves, but also between abstraction and representation. On the one hand, one sees molded sculptures, on the other dolllike faces with openings for eyes and mouths and thus prerequisites for sensory perception. In the case of the yellowish-blue paint head, an ear even seems to be suggested. The plastic quality of the paint mountains was transferred to the surface here in several steps—mirroring, photography, and silkscreen—but, surprisingly, it is the flat reproduction that enhances the illusion of the painting by breaking through the surface with its pictorial arrangement and opening it up into the depth.15 Even though photo-silkscreen and paint relief reflect different realities, Fries succeeds in mediating between them with painting. In her works, one never perceives the separating element, the discord, but instead marvels at the “discordant unity” that they produce.

In her first series of prints, which were published in 1999, Fries also worked with the technique of silkscreen and once again took up the modeled clumps of paint as a motif in them (figs. pp. 60f.). In this series, however, the gestural surfaces that are normally reserved for painting were reproduced in the technique of silkscreen so that a surprising confusion comprising different possibilities of painting was created for perception in the medium of silkscreen. It is also striking that white was not used as a white space here, but instead only as paint, with various nuances. Of all things, in the case of the printed sheets, which usually live from the strict separation into figure and ground, from print color and paper, Fries almost completely dispensed with the paper-colored background.

While the artist had so far relied on things she produces herself, her examination of the work of Maria Sibylla Merian led her to also incorporate the graphic style of other artists into her works from then on. In connection with Merian, she speaks of a collaboration.16 Based on her interest in processes of transformation, from Merian’s oeuvre she selected the Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium of 1705, a magnificent, large-format work in which sixty engravings by the artist were produced after watercolors, while Merian also colored various copies.17 For her color copies, she did not use customary engravings, but instead produced transfers from them, which, as a result of their delicate, gray lines, were more suitable than the dark, powerful prints for coloring in. In her book, Merian recorded the results of her two-year research trip to Surinam, where she studied the tropical flora and indigenous insects there. On the sheets, caterpillars and the corresponding butterflies are reproduced in their natural size on their food plants. Precision is transformed here into beguiling beauty, nature and science into art. How does Fries now structure the dialogue? What rules regulate it? So as to incorporate Merian’s pictures into her own work in their original, natural scale, she did not decide for silkscreen, with which the size of the original can be altered at will, but instead for high-quality facsimiles of Merian’s prints in their original size. Fries tore each of the sheets into two parts (figs. pp. 42f.). Tearing is a typical action when handling paper, comparable with the artist’s rather brutal ways of handling paint, such as crimping or pounding. Dividing the sheets enabled Fries to seize a space for action for her own work on the picture carrier. She arranged the torn sheets separately from one another, generally in the border areas of her wood panels. She simultaneously added a white paper surface to each work as a contrast and projection surface. With this starting situation, the frame in which the “metamorphosis” would now take place was defined. Paint then made its appearance. With caterpillar-like, viscous traces of paint and flat, silhouette-like flower ornaments, the artist reacted in a perceptive way to the shapes and color resonances created by Merian, producing similarity without imitation. In this series, the closeness to nature is also reflected in the picture carrier, on which the grain of the wood panel remains visible.

The works connected with Merian thus also operate with “discordant unity,” and do so in various respects. Fries divided the sheets by the older artist to then reassemble them in a newly created context. In addition, she also combined Merian’s vivid pictures with her own painting style, which has little interest in representation, to achieve a balanced equilibrium in which the styles of both artists remain visible. As a result of the incorporation of historical prints, the coming together of two different worlds is intensified. The principle of coupling the disparate with one another that Fries repeatedly employs calls to mind grotesque ornaments. The grotesque, which, like Fries’s art, indulges in voyeuristic curiosity, is a hybrid genre that cannot be comprehended as either mere ornament or as a fully fledged “picture” using the categories of picture theory introduced by Leon Battista Alberti.18 It combines two different approaches, whereby neither side ever completely gains the upper hand. In the eighteenth century, a special theme reproduced in a three-dimensional and logical way in the sense of a “naturalistic picture” was usually placed in the center of a grotesque. On the plate Divinité Chinoise, created by Gabriel Huquier in 1729–35 after Antoine Watteau (fig. 2, p. 25), this is the landscape with the throne of the divinity. The border or framing ornament, the real stage for the grotesque, surrounds the center and is subject to other ornamental laws.19 The area of the sheet was organized within the frame, and the logic that applies is one of free forms that do not adhere to scale. The “critical” point is the transition, the seam between picture and framing ornament. In Huquier’s etching, these are the steps on the right and left in front of the throne, where the ornament was also partially assimilated into the picture. On the bottom side, they overflow into the margin in a C-curve, which gradually loses its material solidity and becomes mere ornament. The grotesque’s numerous possibilities to shimmer between representation and border ornament are obvious. Fries seems to flirt with the basic rules of the grotesque in the aquarelles de léningrad (figs. pp. 42f.), since she relegates Merian’s representational motifs to the space of the border ornament, while her own abstract shapes form the center. The “critical” points here are the torn edges of the paper. They mark the transition from one world to the other, but also make reference to the gap between present and past.

The white paper rectangles that the artist applied to her picture carrier in this group of works call to mind areas for epigraphs, which are framed by cartouches in ornaments, so that the coupling of framing function and picture as representation are also addressed here. In Fries’s work, the cartouche’s true fundamental concept of surrounding a depiction with a wide ornamental frame is turned into the opposite in an imaginative way by steering the primary focus to the blank area inside. Stefano della Bella already addressed cartouches and experimented with their white space (fig. p. 100) in his series of etchings with the title Raccolta di varii capriccii.20 Fries later incorporated these depictions into her own compositions such as vessel, 2012 (fig. p. 88). In works by both artists, the interweaving of figure and field go so far that it is no longer possible to speak of them having a clearly comprehensible structure.

The engagement with Merian’s oeuvre also led Fries to her caterpillar book, erucarum ortus,21 from which she extracted individual flowers and leaves. They can be found greatly enlarged on paintings and in the alchemilla group of monotypes (figs. pp. 36–39), which more or less did without the use of color for the first time. For this series, Fries made large-format photocopies after Merian, from which she then took a transfer. She printed from paper to paper and created one-of-a-kind works from copies. The picture carrier for the monotypes is corrugated paperboard, whose grooved structure is explicitly exposed at various points in the depth of the picture corpus. With its rugged lines, the corrugated paperboard forms a fine counterweight to Merian’s elegant, printed curves. Besides the wood-like brown of the carrier material and the delicate gray print color, Fries limited herself here to the colors black and white, which she used in alternation as figure and ground. The bright flower shapes on a black ground call to mind black ornaments such as that of a ram followed by a dog by Wolfgang Hieronymus von Bömmel from the series Neu ersonnene Goldschmieds-Grillen, 1680–98 (New Designs for Ornaments in Gold, fig. 3, p. 26). Both animals here are formed from filigree acanthus vines, which are positioned on a black ground so that the ornamentation becomes independent as absurd-seeming frivolities, which the publisher described in German as “Grillen” (grilles). Fries’s work alchemilla D from 2005 (fig. p. 38), in which she printed one part of the jacket text of the Merian reprint, including the barcode, in a delicate gray alternately on black and white, seems grille-like. A practical text in her pictorial cosmos is just as surprising as acanthus vines inside animals. There are at the same time also elements that are even more factual: in a print from 2014, stock prices from a daily newspaper form the background for graphic elements by Stefano della Bella.22

If one considers that the artist had to copy the jacket text of the Merian publication in reverse from the book so that it can again be read correctly after being reproduced, it becomes clear that the concept for the engaging monotypes with their initially more sensual perception was already situated on a meta-level. This also includes the fact that the white space is first turned into a black space, an inversion that Fries will also frequently take up in her paintings in the future.23 Besides the color of the picture carrier, its structure, which is here already partially exposed, also plays an ever-greater role.

Up to this point, color and hence “fable” was always central to the artist’s oeuvre, in the group of works weisswirt, what now follows is a fundamental examination of the picture carrier, the “host,” and hence of wood.24 Fries explores various forms and structures of wood, is interested in driftwood from the river Rhine, the lines of knotholes, surfaces that arise through sawing or processing by means of sandblasting, logs, and square timber. With silkscreen, she now reproduced wood elements on wood. In maserzug 1, 2008 (fig. p. 85), real, grained wood carriers are integrated into the painted wooden block so that figure and ground merge with one another in a refined way. A comparable tendency, namely the intermeshing of framing ornament and picture motif, can be found in the earth rocailles, a special form of rocaille that appears in ornamental etchings of the late Rococo. Earth rocailles are the motif of the twelve-part series of etchings Capricci Parte I by Gottlieb Leberecht Crusius, published around 1760—and they also deal with wood.25 On one of the plates (fig. 4, p. 28), a pollarded willow consisting of scraps of bark in C-curves oscillating in opposite directions stands at the front edge of a landscape. The “rocaille tree” that is formed in this way grows from the earth as rotten wood. The ornament merges with nature by means of stages of transition such as decay and weathering. It is only still the form, in which the planar character of the rocaille is retained, that presents the ruin of a tree as ornament.26 In both the earth rocaille and Fries’s grain theme, wood becomes the subject of an artwork not only in its being depicted, but also in terms of material. In her work, the wood panels are primed white at the points where no printed wood can be seen, so that the blocks of wood presented seem particularly plastic in contrast to the white surface. Especially the square timbers project forcefully into the space of viewers, as in illusionistic Baroque ceiling paintings. Their fine line structure is emphasized by thin, transparent paint in warm earth tones. In weisswirt a, 2008 (fig. p. 81), the printed “facts” respond to thick paint structures created with brushes or painting utensils such as a comb. In the upper area of the painting, an impasto wave structure that links the different woods with one another in one “movement” (German: “Zug”) is thus realized. The same holds true for the gestural movement of the brush, which energetically mediates between the types of wood in the upper and lower part of the picture. In the maserpapier group of works, which takes up the motif of grain in the area of works on paper, the artist also first coated paper with white paint and hence, in a way similar to Crusius in the earth rocailles, created a white visual space in an artistic way.27 On the opaque paper, the true nature, the grain, replies, so that the titles maserpapier, weisswirt, or maserzug denote the opposing energies that characterize this group of works. In these pictures, the proportion of white is greater than in the past and is further intensified in the fahnenbilder by means of fragments from Hendrick Goltzius’s engraving The Great Standard-Bearer, 1587 (fig. p. 123).

For the fahnenbilder, created in 2010, Fries selected the banner, which the standard-bearer swings in an elegant way, as her point of departure. Goltzius elaborated the flowing of the fabric in a masterful way with lines running parallel to each other. They differ in course, have various distances from each other, and are demarcated from one another by their “waist”; the ebb and flow of each line depending on the pressure of the chisel on the copper plate.28 In fahnenbild 6, 2010 (fig. p. 93), Fries printed fragments of the banner on both the picture carrier and the layers of paint, one time with black lines on a bright ground, another with bright characteristics on a black background. Unlike the different grains of the pieces of wood, the artificial lines that Goltzius arranged diagonally on the banner develop an enormous dynamic, which the painter countered with expansive C-curve-like arcs of paint in shades of red and blue, and hence responded to the printed “facts.” The banner that gave the group of works its name has been fragmented so intensely here that it can no longer be recognized, but its materiality, the flowing lines, give rise to a background noise that sets a strong contrast to the quiet, opaque white. In connection with the fahnenbilder, Fries herself speaks of “gestures that stage themselves” and thus alludes to the meta-level of her painting, the self-presentation of art in a pictorial form of appearance.29 She also mentions that the billowing scraps of flag material and the bizarrely moving arcs of paint can scarcely “support” each other any longer; “they have to endure being a picture.”30

Something similar holds true in the wood architecture of the Cahier de six Baraques Chinoises, which Jeanne Deny etched around 1770 after original drawings by Jean Pillement. These wooden wonders show fantastical frameworks projecting into the sky on which bizarrely exotic scenes are taking place (fig. 5, p. 29). Here, she constructed a system of grotesques consisting of wood and parts of plants in which the ornament comprises the real subject, and only becomes ornament again as a result of the grotesque combinatorics.31 Both Fries and Deny work in their pictorial structures with various scales. In Deny’s etching, delicate, grass-like blooms provide support for a multistory architecture in which a swing on which a person moves to and fro is hung. One attempts to imagine the spaces depicted, but founders due to the optical viability. The gaze of viewers jumps back and forth between the different elements as if in a painting by Fries. In both cases, the polyfocality, the “discordant unity” that arises in the picture as a result of the different size ratios, puts an end to the domination of one single viewpoint. The world of perception eludes the stabilizing point of reference of central perspective and is able to be manipulated. In connection with the rocaille, Hermann Bauer speaks of its “micromegalic” structure, whereby the coming together of various scales in the central picture of a rocaille is meant. He derived the term from Voltaire’s science fiction novel Micromégas, published in 1752, in which a resident of Sirius goes on a journey through outer space and, depending on who he encounters, soon experiences his tremendous size—or his diminutiveness.32 Viewers of Fries’s work have a similar experience when she prints fragments of one of The Four Disgracers by Goltzius over one another in various sizes, positions, and colors in corpus transludi B7, 2017 (fig. p. 109), so that a “grotesque” tension comparable with that in Deny’s plates comes about. Not only heterogeneous juxtaposition, but in particular an “interwoven quality” make reference to the intention to bring things to a head and to concentrate them. What is also worth noting is the fact that, for the first time, Fries now has new colors produced with prints by means of overprinting.

Dave Hickey once aptly described Fries’s art as “visceral Rococo.”33 Rococo is a phase in the transition from Baroque to Classicism in which reassessments took place. The ornamental motif of the C-curve was thus originally a stylistic means of the Baroque, which was subsequently also used in the Rococo, but now no longer in the sense of elaborating based on stylistic means, but instead in the sense of working with them. A complete metamorphosis has taken place.34 The restructuring of elements that initially remain the same signifies an ironic distancing, while simultaneously retaining their possibilities. This process can then be seen in Fries’s work in particular when she makes use of elements from historical graphic reproductions. While she preserves the respective style of the artist, what occurs is a reevaluation, but also a dissolution and destruction that was concealed in the Rococo under a thin layer of merriment, something that has often been marveled at. Everything is a game. FABELFAKT!

  1. Quoted from Maria Sibylla Merian, New Book of Flowers (Munich et al., 1999), p. 6.
  2. The artist Hans Brändli coined the term “fabelfakt” in 2018 as the title for the exhibition at the Kunstpalast.
  3. On the capriccio, see Werner Busch, “Das Capriccio und die Erweiterung der Wirklichkeit,” in Ekkehard Mai and Joachim Rees, eds., Kunstform Capriccio: Von der Groteske zur Spieltheorie der Moderne (Cologne, 1998), pp. 53–79.
  4. See the jacket blurb for Das Capriccio als Kunstprinzip: Zur Vorgeschichte der Moderne von Arcimboldo und Callot bis Tiepolo und Goya, Malerei – Zeichnung – Graphik, ed. Ekkehard Mai, exh. cat. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, et al. (Milan, 1996).
  5. See Werner Busch, “XIV. Ornament,” in ibid., p. 364.
  6. See Pia Müller-Tamm, “Bilder unter Bildern: Zur Kunst von Pia Fries seit ihren Anfängen,” in Pia Fries: Krapprhizom Luisenkupfer, exh. cat. Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (Düsseldorf, 2011), pp. 8–23, esp. p. 10, and p. 13.
  7. See Svetlana Alpers, Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market (Chicago, 1988), pp. 22f.
  8. See Müller-Tamm 2011 (see note 6), p. 23.
  9. René Descartes, “La Dioptrique,” in id., Discours de la Méthode et les Essais (Leiden, 1637). On the reception of the text, see Denis Diderot, Lettre sur les aveugles à l’usage de ceux qui voyent (London, 1749), and Michael J. Morgan, Molyneux’s Question: Vision, Touch and the Philosophy of Perception (Cambridge, 1977), p. 34.
  10. See Linda Karohl-Kistmacher, “Weißraum: Zu den Arbeiten auf Papier von Pia Fries,” in Vier Winde: Pia Fries, Gerhard-Altenbourg-Preis 2017, ed. Roland Krischke, exh. cat. Lindenau-Museum Altenburg (Düsseldorf, 2017), pp. 67–75.
  11. See Valeria Liebermann, “Damit man von ihnen reden kann,” in Pia Fries: parsen und module, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Göppingen (Düsseldorf, 1999), pp. 93–98, esp. p. 95.
  12. See Bernd Finkeldey, “Der Farbe lebhafte Kraft,” in ibid., pp. 99–104, esp. p. 103.
  13. See Busch 1998 (see note 3), p. 60.
  14. See ibid., pp. 62f.
  15. See Müller-Tamm 2011 (see note 6), p. 15.
  16. See Camille Morineau and Pia Fries, “The Skins of Painting: A Dialogue between Camille Morineau and Pia Fries,” in Pia Fries. Merian’s Surinam, exh. cat. Galerie Nelson-Freeman, Paris (Düsseldorf, 2009), pp. 87–90, esp. p. 88.
  17. Pia Fries used the facsimile edition, which was limited to 1,750 copies numbered in Arabic: Maria Sibylla Merian, Leningrader Aquarelle, ed. Ernst Ullmann, 2 vols. (Leipzig and Dresden, 1974).
  18. See Roland Kanz, “Capriccio und Groteske,” in Mai and Rees 1998 (see note 3), pp. 13–32, esp. p. 13.
  19. See Hermann Bauer, Rocaille: Zur Herkunft und zum Wesen eines Ornament-Motivs (Berlin, 1962), pp. 4f.
  20. Stefano della Bella, Raccolta di varii capriccii et nove invenzioni di cartelle et ornamenti, series of eighteen etchings, Paris, 1646.
  21. Fries worked with a reprint of Maria Sibylla Merian, Flowers, Butterflies and Insects: All 154 Engravings from Erucarum Ortus, 1718 (New York, 1991).
  22. See Pia Fries, sehwege F, 2014, silkscreen on 250g/sqm Fedrigoni Old Mill, printer: Siebdruckwerkstatt Ahrens, Ottobrunn, Christian W. Ahrens, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, inv. no. K 2014-28 b.
  23. Author’s conversation with Pia Fries in October 2018.
  24. See Martina Dobbe, “Malerei neben sich: Zur Arbeit von Pia Fries,” in Pia Fries: Weisswirt und Maserzug, exh. cat. Kopfermann-Fuhrmann Stiftung, Düsseldorf (Dortmund, 2016), pp. 9–24, esp. p. 17.
  25. Gottlieb Leberecht Crusius (1730–1804), Erd-Rocaille, sheet 8, from Capricci Parte I, ca. 1760, etching, 27.5 × 22 cm (15 × 12 cm), Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, inv. no. K 1928-1492 b.
  26. See Bauer 1962 (see note 19), p. 53.
  27. See Karohl-Kistmacher 2017 (see note 10), p. 71.
  28. See Dorit Schäfer, “Vom Linearen und Malerischen. Pia Fries und Hendrick Goltzius,” in exh. cat. Düsseldorf 2011 (see note 6), pp. 162–67, esp. p. 164.
  29. See Müller-Tamm 2011 (see note 6), p. 21.
  30. Ibid.
  31. See Bauer 1962 (see note 19), pp. 60f.
  32. Ibid., p. 21.
  33. See Dave Hickey, “The Remains of Today,” in Pia Fries: Paintings 1990–2007, exh. cat. Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Josef Albers Museum Quadrat, Bottrop (Düsseldorf, 2007), pp. 125–30, esp. p. 130.
  34. See Bauer 1962 (see note 19), p. 75.