Oberstdorf Landscape

Oberstdorf Landscape

1922Oil on cardboard54.2 × 69 cmArt Museum of Estonia

Konrad Mägi left Italy in mid-August 1922 and by the end of the month, he was in Oberstdorf where he would also stay for about a month. “What a contrast between Italy and this land,” he wrote from Bavaria. “I still recall my last days in Venice as if it they were some fantastic dream. Only now, due to the contrast, can I understand what Italy is.” It is more or less the only trace of Mägi’s stay in Oberstdorf. His student and biographer Rudolf Paris says that Mägi went to Oberstdorf to recuperate – the region is famous for its sanatoria and Alpine air, and Mägi, who complained about lung problems along with much else, may indeed have been there for health reasons. On one postcard, he gives his address as the elegant and expensive hotel Panorama – he may have had enough money to pamper himself in a luxury resort.

But upon travelling to Italy, he had received a message: “I spoke with the sanatorium by telephone. They are full and there is no hope of staying there anytime soon!” It is thus possible that he did not stay at a sanatorium in Oberstdorf but was visiting his friends, a shipping businessman and his wife.

Mägi painted here, too. Unlike Norway, where he did not make it to the mountains, in Oberstdorf he saw rocky cliffs for the first time in his life. “I climbed a mountain here, a boring one of course, and am quite tired,” he wrote his friend. Yet mountains become the main protagonists in his paintings. They are big, massive forces of nature, often locking up the picture space with their presence. The mountains are in the middle of the picture and everything else is accessories: houses, lakes, trees.