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Charline von Heyl



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Charline von Heyl’s large-scale paintings create a seemingly paradoxical space that hovers between abstraction and figuration. The result is a startling shift in perspective, often reversing the relation between figure and ground and generating a disorienting three-dimensionality. In Melencolia, this shift in perspective is deeply rooted in the tradition of art history. Taking up the entire surface of the canvas is a rendition of Albrecht Dürer’s famous four-by-four magic square from his engraving Melencolia I (1514). A riddle of numbers, Dürer’s magic square depicts the sum of 34 in different mathematical equations. Von Heyl turns Dürer’s magic square into the ground for her own painting of the same name, adding discernable markers of painterly expression by expanding its dripping grid across the picture plane. On top of that image is her second art historical allusion, the convex mirror in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding (1434). Juxtaposed with the grid-like surface of Durer’s magic square and out of its original context, the convex mirror takes on its own magic quality of a mysterious, three-dimensional shape. It becomes increasingly clear that the artist understands these two famous artworks not just as references, but as the material ground on which her own paintings can come into being. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Charline von Heyl (German, b. 1960)
  • Title Melencolia
  • Date 2008
  • Medium Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on linen
  • Dimensions unframed | 85 1/2 x 82 1/2 in.
  • Credit line University purchase with funds from the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, 2011
  • Object number WU 2011.0004

Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), 11/08/2018 - 04/21/2019

Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century
Frist Art Museum (Nashville, Tennessee), 06/22/2018 - 09/16/2018

Contemporary German Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/03/2013 - 09/07/2013

Precarious Worlds: Contemporary Art from Germany
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/09/2011 - 01/09/2012

Charline von Heyl: Le jour de boire est arrivé
Le Consortium (Dijon, France), 03/15/2009 - 05/31/2009

Charline von Heyl
Capitain Petzel (Berlin, Germany), 01/09/2009 - 02/28/2009

Purchased from Capitain Petzel Gallery (Berlin, Germany); Purchased with funds from James M. Kemper Jr. (Kansas City, MO)

Inscription References Dürer's magic constant 34 from "Melencolia", where each row of 4, each column of 4, and each diagonal of 4 adds up to 34. Von Heyl obscures nine numbers, only including 16 [A1], 13 [A4], 12 [C4], and the bottom row 4, 15, 14, 1.

This artwork record may be incomplete or need refinement. Our staff actively researches the collection and revises records when new information is available. If you have questions or comments about this record, please contact us.