Kārlis Padegs was inspired by Russian writer Leonid Andreyev’s story "The Red Laughter" to create a series of black and white indian ink drawings, which, using the elements of hyperbole and grotesque, commented on the horrors and senselessness of war. Along with the reproductions of another six drawings they represent the highest achievement of graphic expressionism in Latvian art of the first half of the 20th century. One of the main sources for Padegs’s themes and motifs was the modern metropolis with its urban alienation, party atmosphere, and social marginality and poverty. In 1934, he made the series of drawings "A Book for the Poor" conceived as "spitting into the face of the so-called decent society"
John Henry Fuseli was introduced to the poetry of John Milton while he was a student in Zürich. This picture was inspired by Milton's poem Paradise Lost, which held a special appeal for him, and other Romantic artists. This is because it explores the realms of the imagination, dreams and the supernatural. The picture illustrates a moment in Milton's poem where he compares the fallen angels in the Hall of Pandemonium in Hell to the fairies who bewitch a passing peasant with the sound of their music and dancing.
Albrecht Dürer's Melencolia is a depiction of his intellectual situation and a spiritual self-portrait. In medieval philosophy, each individual was thought to be dominated by one of the four humors. Melancholy, was the least desirable of the four because melancholics were considered most likely to succumb to insanity, however, it was also thought to be linked with creative genius. The winged personification of Melancholy holds a caliper and is surrounded by other tools associated with geometry, the one of the seven liberal arts that underlies artistic creation and the one through which Dürer hoped to approach perfection in his own work.
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