Pre-War Figurative Art
(1922 - 1950)
55,5 x 70 cm
Oil on canvas.
Signed bottom right: Thomas Bodnár New York; signed bottom left: Sinking of Titanic April 18, 1912
Naive paintings from the Saphier collection, Szombathely, 2004, page 47.
Naive paintings from the Saphier collection
The painting illustrates the tragedy of the luxurious Titanic. The world’s most famous maritime disaster evoked the attention and inspired artists around the world, like the German expressionist Max Beckmann, another émigré to the United States. Bodnar’s painting can also be classified as expressionist, however, his vision of the sinking is more realistic than Beckman’s. The unsettling atmosphere of Bodnar’s painting is generated by the crowded composition. The ships and waves are dynamically cutting diagonals on the canvas, and the iceberg is placed at the very top of the composition, creating an agitated mood. The restlessness is amplified by the application of contrasting colors: the dark waves and hull swinging in front of the glowing white iceberg.
It is important to highlight that other than Bodnar’s and Beckmann’s, only few existing artworks were created in the same year as the catastrophe. Charles Edward Dixon, the successful British maritime painter created a watercolor illustration of the Titanic, nevertheless, as it was painted before the voyage of the ship, his static and harmonious representation shows no awareness of the forthcoming tragedy.
Bodnar’s artwork shows the roots of romanticism and the European seascape painting, a genre especially popular during the seventeenth-century Dutch Golden Age. Maritime art was a major genre in European harbor cities as it was able to express both the victorious conquest of the new world, and the romantic adventure of and the fear from the capricious weather which man cannot rule. The story of the Titanic, a ship that was the symbol of indeterminate wealth and power, abruptly became the unfortunate subject of a tragedy. In 2004, the Sinking of the Titanic was exhibited among the artworks of Naive paintings in the Saphier Collection in Szombathely, Hungary.