Jerome Bosch and the Fantastic in Arts

A documentary film in 2 parts for ARTE about the medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch.

The painter Jerome van Aaken, called Hieronymus Bosch, lived in the Dutch town of Herzogenbosch between probably 1450 and 1516. Today we see in him an eccentric painter of religious visions, an exceptional figure in the painting of flame and Europe. The fascinating paintings have a tremendous depth dimension that inspired psychoanalysts such as Carl Gustav Jung and artists such as Max Ernst and Salvador Dali in the 20th century. Recent discoveries make the figure of this painter even more enigmatic, according to which he perhaps cannot be solely responsible for the fantastic pictures.

In two films, “The Inventor of the Unconscious,” and “Dream, Drive, and Self-Knowledge,” Stephan Bleek created a portrait of the painter and his oeuvre that, through close-ups, brings Bosch’s richly detailed paintings to life in a dense and direct way.

The first part deals with the main work “The Garden of Desires,” now in the Prado Museum in Madrid; the second part presents the “Last Judgement,” now in Vienna, and the Lisbon “Temptation of Anthony,” as well as the painting “The Hay Carriage.

The human image of Bosch becomes clear: Man is a fool who is driven aimlessly through the world by desires and obstinacy, without concern, reason, wisdom or meaning. His pictures set against the impulsive nature of man the self-knowledge, the wisdom about which alone the way to happiness and wealth can be found. Bosch’s most important legacy is the tremendous ingenuity with which he stages this world view. Many of these ideas are alien to us and at the same time surprisingly present.

(BR / ARTE 2002)