About the object
A snapshot of everyday life: the two girls have apparently been interrupted by the young man as they work in the fields. What is one whispering in the ear of the other? Is the boy the topic of the conversation? This remains her secret. Reiss illustrated numerous books and painted various motifs for postcards and advertising.
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What is the girl whispering into her friend’s ear? Apparently something amusing, for the girl in front smiles impishly. The young man standing nearby watches the two girls, grinning expectantly-are they whispering about him, about a remark he has just made? His self-confident pose and impudent gaze suggest that he is in fact the subject of the conversation. Yet neither he nor the viewer of the work will ever know for sure, for as the title indicates, it is a secret. The scene seems taken straight from everyday life in the Black Forest. The girl in front holds a pitchfork, and both of the young women are wearing work clothes: heavy shoes, cotton skirts and aprons, and kerchiefs around their heads. Apparently they have been surprised by the young man and have paused from their work. The wide landscape reveals a view into the distance and has a decorative quality, making the three figures appear almost as if they were on a theater stage. The patchy, pastel-like application of paint with its dominant brown and red tones lends the picture a casual, peaceful atmosphere well-suited to the relaxed mood of the group. Apart from the clothing, a scene like this could occur anywhere even today, wherever young people meet and flirt with one another. This same storytelling, almost humorous spirit marks many of Fritz Reiss’s paintings. Reiss studied at the academy in Düsseldorf and later joined the artists’ colony at Gutach in the Black Forest, whose members also included Wilhelm Hasemann and Curt Liebich. The intention of this artists’ group was to visually record the rich culture, land, life, and people of the Black Forest. Fritz Reiss also created postcards, books, and advertising posters in the same style, as seen in his advertising design Black Forest Coffee Party, which features the same self-confident young man with a pipe. MIRJA STRAUB (Trans. MELISSA THORSON)