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Between and Mortarboard

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The Omen (Das Zeichen)

Accession Number

The Omen (Das Zeichen)

Alfred Kubin

Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1912

Medium & Support
watercolor and ink on wove paper (map printed on verso)

12 1/4 in. x 5 5/8 in. ( 31.12 cm x 14.29 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of the Ernst Pulgram and Frances McSparran Collection

Label copy
Alfred Kubin
Austria, 1887–1959
The Omen (Das Zeichen)
Watercolor and ink on paper
Gift of the Ernst Pulgram and Frances McSparran Collection, 2007/2.106
Alfred Kubin was the most prolific illustrator of the Expressionists, as he drew hundreds of illustrations for dozens of texts. He excelled in creating imaginary worlds as the setting for virtually all of his works and is recognized for his skill in pen and ink techniques. Some of his resulting images take on the status of myth—narratives describing the origins and conditions of humanity. Having suffered greatly in his early life, much of Kubin’s mythic world centers on “life as hell,” as one exhibition has summarized it, where the human being is threatened by forces outside his or her control. The erupting volcano of The Omen, which threatens the fleeing masses with extinction, is an iconographic symbol of this theme that Kubin returned to frequently in his early work.

Subject matter
A trail of people flee an erupting volcano, including a mother with a baby in her arms.

Physical Description
In the top left, a volcano erupts with flame shooting upward. Around the volcano, wrapping from the center of the image to the lower left corner, are dozens of individuals who seem to be fleeing the eruption. The larged figure is a mother, a baby in her arms and her mouth and eyes wide open. The entire drawing consists of lines, including shading, with underlying washes of color.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
life drawing

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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natural element motifs

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