Inspiring Art for Writers – the painting that was the source for Waiting for Godot
This is a painting by Caspar David Friendrich, a 19th century German artist most famous for his land and seascapes which seem to tell stories while creating an emotional response in the viewer. This particular painting wasn’t my first choice. I was going to use Monk by the Sea and had written a post about it, but in the end I couldn’t push the publish button. It was just too much, even on the small scale of my computer. It’s drenched in loneliness, in the sheer frightening smallness of what it is to be human. You can find the painting easily on the internet, but I’m not going to inflict that mood on you, you can do that to yourself…
Not that Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon is especially cheery. (Friendrich, I suspect, would not be your companion of choice on a pub crawl.) It is, however, an absorbing painting. It captures a moment of reflection: the couple walked to that spot through dark woods and will walk away again. They are gazing at probably the only source of light in that night time landscape and seem lost in it. What is making them so thoughtful? What do they think or fear or hope the future will hold? Are they at a turning point? Stories are all about the point of change, where nothing is the same again. You can write about that and let the reader fill in the details…
Friendrich has influenced may artists from René Magritte to Mark Rothko. In a Sunday Times article in 2004 the great Irish playwright Samuel Becket is described as standing in front of this painting saying, ‘This was the source of Waiting for Godot, you know.’
Oh, by the way, if you’ve never heard of Caspar David Friendrich before I bet you are already familiar with his most famous painting, The Wanderer (see below)
If you enjoyed this, there’s a pretty good chance you’d also like my writing guide Back to Creative Writing School. Nearly 90 five star reviews on Amazon…just saying.
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