Surrendering yourself to something.


For me, surrendering yourself is about the passion and dedication you bring to something. It is a precondition for work of a very personal nature, where you want to do the best you can. When I retreat to my studio and paint, time and place completely lose their meaning. I am free. Creativity becomes automatic, and I can focus on one thing.

A particularly vivid snapshot of your surroundings can also be a moment of surrender. In the past, this was driving across the Alps with my brother in a “pretzel” Beetle. We soaked it all up – seeing the mountains for the first time, driving over the high passes, then Italy and the sea.

Images like these secretly leave their mark and resurface every now and then. Like some time ago, when I visited the church my father died in towards the end of the war. As I entered the church, the organ began to play a song from my childhood, “The Moon Has Risen”. My father’s favorite song. It was a very intense, deeply personal moment.

Last year, I was filming in the US with Terrence Malick, a one-of-a-kind director who is known for his improvisations. My scene was set in an enormous church. Just me and Natalie Portman, who played the lead role. Terrence had seen my violin in my trailer beforehand. Towards the end of the scene, he had the violin brought to me and asked me to play. I stood in the church holding my violin. All of a sudden, this old melody from my childhood came to me. I don’t know how long I played for. My surroundings disappeared. I cannot describe what I felt in that moment. After the scene, Natalie Portman kissed my hand in thanks and Terrence Malick’s wife had tears in her eyes.

It’s the same with surrendering yourself – old images reveal their inner strength.


The Kunsthaus Lübeck gallery showcases the paintings of Armin Mueller-Stahl.

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