Blue Crystal Fire

The installation addresses the fruitless search of Ludwig II for the perfect blue lighting of his Venus Grotto. Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the fairy tale king, spent most of his life building castles. Many buildings though remained unfinished. He employed several artists, architects and engineers who worked with him to fulfill his ideas. He was especially engaged with the lighting for his artificial grotto at Castle Linderhof. The aim was to simulate the special shimmer of the Blue Grotto of Capri. Although he had never seen it in person he had a very specific vision of how it should look like. His desire for a more intense blue color motivated the still young color industry and brought wealth to the BASF (Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik Ludwigshafen) years after Ludwig’s death through an imperial patent for the production of artificial indigo. The exhibition displays five acrylic paintings on MDF boards depicting romantic sceneries dipped in moonlight. Four of the paintings contain an animal with its back towards the spectator: swan, peacock, eagle and horse—the favorite animals of Ludwig II. The paintings are framed and illuminated by blue neon lights which change their colors depending on the time of the day. LED lights are partially mounted into the works, making the light itself an integral component of the paintings. The fifth painting shows a big blue crystal looming high above a sea breaker, also illuminated by moonlight. Beneath it stands an antique table with a row of cut crystal glasses, each containing growing blue crystals from copper sulfate. The windows are covered with blue heavy velvet curtains. Across from the table a blue frozen flame is burning in an old fireplace. The distorted version of the song “Blue Crystal Fire” by American folk singer Robbie Basho echoes softly through the room, adding a gloomy annotation to the installation and Ludwig’s yearning for perfection and romanticism.


Photos: Stefan Kainbacher