Viewed in this context, Ascher’s monumental painting The Tortured shows “the inner struggle of the central figure as a quest to realize his ideal, spiritual potential amidst the conflicting forces of vice and more unsavory impulses. The central male figure, strong, able to physically but not emotionally break the restraints that hold him, is blue—the color of religious fervor, divinity, spirituality. His tormenters then include uncontrollable anger or passion (red). His intellect (yellow) holds him back from realizing his spiritual ideal. The purple woman, as desire and devotion, is a distraction that whispers in his ear, or an “unsettling” influence, using Goethe’s view on purple. The slightly menacing, monstrous woman is rendered in Goethe’s ideal color combination—the peaceful equilibrium of green threatened or tempered by the menace of red passion. That individuals of varying ages and genders should manifest the central male figure’s inner psyche only confirms the occult links between Ascher’s color choices and a symbolic color palette, as in Theosophically inspired art, the duality of the universe was often expressed as the alignment of male and female impulses.”
This interpretation underscores Munch’s artistic influence on Ascher. It just became much easier to look deeper into that relationship, because Munch’s works on paper, some 7,600 drawings, were digitized by the Munch Museum in Oslo and are now available online.
Something fun to do once winter hits and you do not want to leave the house!
Rachel Stern, Director and CEO
artwork Fritz Ascher ©2019 Bianca Stock, Photo Malcolm Varon