Caliban

MAKER:
Artist

Alfred Kubin ( Austrian, 1877 - 1959 )

DATE:
1918
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General Description

The plump, furry body of Caliban sits on a sea shore. His wide curious glance upward and unstable perch suggest a distracted pause in motion. Caliban is a principle antagonist in Shakespeare's The Tempest. He is a beastly, lonesome native of a deserted island suddenly occupied by a pompous, exiled duke. Caliban shows himself to be lustful, deceitful, weak, and disturbed.

Caliban's tortured soul embodies the sinister spectacle that Alfred Kubin, the master of Symbolist macabre, found irresistible. Kubin's own life was scarred by death and mental breakdown. He spent the last fifty years of his life, productive but private, in a small Austrian castle with his wife. Oscar Wilde uses Caliban to illustrate the complex 19th-century fascination with reflection, psychological and representational:

"The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass."

-Oscar Wilde, _A Picture of Dorian Gray_

Excerpt from

Brittany Luberda, DMA label copy, 2010.

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