[Air Carriers]

gouache on paper, 1914


Fidus (Lübeck 1868-1948 Woltersdorf bei Berlin), also known as Hugo Höppener

"Luftträger" ["Air Supporters" or "Air Carriers"]


gouache on laid paper, mounted on brown cardboard

17 x 15,5 cm

on the mount, lower right monogrammed and dated by the artist: "F. III 14" [March, 1914]

on the mount, lower left titled by the artist: "Luftträger" 

on the mount verso, in black ink signed "Fidus" and inscribed thus by the artist, who was influenced by theosophy early on:  "Mit Ätheraugen (Röntgenschwingungen) gesehen 1914. Daraus entstand der Reigen als Skizze: 'Die Spanner des blauen Bogens' (die Erahner [Erathmer] des Luftmantels der Erde), die aber liebesschön waren, keine Knochendurchsicht."  ["Seen with ethereal eyes (X-ray vibrations) in 1914. ...."]


Psychedelia in 1914!   

The proto-hippie German artist Fidus (1868-1948), whose work would inspire the psychedelic art of the 1960s, was influenced by Theosophy and other esoteric schools of thought of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  This fantastic drawing is perhaps his most explicitly theosophical work, an emanationist, interconnected view of the cosmos.  In his artistic imagination, Fidus sees through and beyond physical appearances to perceive rhythmic emanations or vibrations that connect the individual with the cosmic whole.

On the back of the drawing, the eccentric Fidus, in phantasmagoric terms, described his visionary creation of the work thus: “Through ethereal eyes (X-Ray vibrations), [I saw] the dance of … the diviners of the Earth’s air-blanket.”  (partial English translation of German original)

This is an avant-garde drawing for its time, which lends further support to the reappraisal of Fidus as urged in the provocative 2015 exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Artists and Prophets: A Secret History of Modern Art 1872-1972, curated by Pamela Kort in collaboration with Max Hollein, to which The Daulton Collection loaned two Fidus drawings.

          --  Jack Daulton, September 2021

 "Den Ätherleib, in der spirituellen Auffassung das unterste übersinnliche Wesensglied des Menschen, zeigt Fidus in seiner Gestalt von den kosmischen Rhythmen bestimmt. Was hier Fidus in seiner imaginativen Anschauung, also mit seinen "Ätheraugen" sieht, sind Formen, die besonders im Kopfbereich über den physischen Leib hinausragen und in vom gesamten Körper ausgehenden rhythmischen Schwingungen eine Verbindung mit dem kosmischen Ganzen halten. Er sieht also in seiner Imagination durch die physische Erscheinung hindurch und über sie hinaus - und genau dieses Empfundene oder Geschaute zeichnet er: eine überaus moderne Auffassung." B

["The etheric body, in the spiritual conception the lowest supersensible element of the human being, is shown by Fidus, in its shape determined by the cosmic rhythms. What Fidus sees here in his imaginative intuition, i.e. with his 'ethereal eyes,' are forms that protrude above the physical body, especially in the head area, and maintain a connection with the cosmic whole in rhythmic vibrations emanating from the entire body. So in his imagination, he sees through and beyond the physical appearance - and this feeling or vision is precisely what he draws: an extremely modern conception."]  English translation by Jack Daulton.

For a closely related drawing see: Kai Buchholz, et al., eds., Die Lebensreform: Entwürfe zur Neugestaltung von Leben und Kunst um 1900 (Darmstadt: Verlag Häusser, 2001) (Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt exhibition catalogue), Band II, ill. at pg. 77 (Kat. 2.15) (Fidus, "Die Erathmer der Luft" ["The Breathers of the Air"], 1914, gouache on paper on cardboard).

detail showing inscription on verso:



The Daulton Collection