An Idealized Scene is based on Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Sea of Ice, also known as The Wreck of Hope. The name of the 2011 diptych refers to the title under which Friedrich’s painting was first shown in Prague in 1924, An Idealized Scene of an Arctic Sea, with a Wrecked Ship on the Heaped Masses of Ice. It is thought to be based on a shipwreck that took place during one of the numerous expeditions searching for a Northwest Passage.
Friedrich’s painting is emblematic of Romanticism, a movement that identified intense emotion as a source of aesthetic experience and that is regarded as a reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment period as well as the burgeoning industrialization in Europe.
Maintaining the painting’s original scale, An Idealized Scene very nearly replicates its exact structure and renders it as an abstract diagram, made to read as an unwieldy and turbulent library on the topic of economy and desire.