Friday, 6 December 2013

Extra edition: art exhibition “Children on Canvas“

The art exhibition "Children on Canvas — The Bond Between Great Artists and Their Offspring" will open in April next year at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi, Tokyo.

This is an updated version of the exhibition “Les Enfants Modèles” — an expression in French with the dual meaning of “children who posed as models” and “model children” — which took place at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris in 2009.
Mr. Emmanuel Bréon, the former director of the Musée de l’Orangerie and the curator of the original exhibition in France, and Mr. Nobuyuki Senzoku, Professor Emeritus at Seijo University, supervised the content.

The theme of this exhibition is to portray the experiences of the children who posed as models, convey the feelings of the parents or the artists who were close to the children, and interpret the messages or episodes depicted in each artwork for the audience.

Approximately ninety pieces of artwork will be exhibited, including those by great artists such as Renoir, Monet, Matisse, and Picasso.

The venue and schedule are as follows:

Tokyo: Saturday, April 19th – Sunday, June 29th, 2014
Mori Arts Center Gallery (Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52F)

Osaka: Saturday, July 19th – Monday, October 13th (National Holiday), 2014
Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts (Tennoji Park)

*For details of the exhibition or ticket sales, please refer to the official website:

Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde

Kazimir Malevich,The Woodcutter (recto)/ Peasant Women
in Church (verso),

1912. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Russian painter Kazimir Malevich founded the new art movement Suprematism in 1915. Suprematism aims to create abstract depictions that are in themselves pure forms of art rather than visual reproductions of worldly items. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, owner of the largest collection of Malevich’s works outside of Russia, offers a retrospective of the painter’s influential career through some 350 paintings and by studying Malevich’s relations with other artists of his time.

Along with his Russian colleagues, Malevich was shaped heavily by the French art movements of Impressionism and Cubism. But these avant-garde artists gradually sensed the end of the era of Western European paintings. They believed the new movement would come from the east and turned to Russian art, studying folk and religious tales, prints with folk themes and Russian icons. The artists used deep red, green and yellow in their works, and Malevich, too, contrasted striking colors in his portrayals of farm laborers.

Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism: Self-Portrait in
Two Dimensions
, 1915.
Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
In 1915, Malevich suddenly presented new works in an exhibit titled “0.10.” They were paintings of simple geometric shapes like circles, rectangles and crosses painted in key colors of black, red, blue and yellow on white backgrounds. Malevich defied conventions of reproducing reality such as in his renderings of depth, and he asserted Suprematism as a victory of colors and shape against reality. Our current program reproduces this 1915 “0.1” exhibit. Near the ceiling where a Russian home would normally place an icon, is displayed Black Square, as a new icon of art.

Malevich’s sudden shift to pure, abstract painting remains a mystery but some believe it was caused by his involvement two years prior to “0.1” with the avant-garde opera Victory Over the Sun. Written by futurist poet Aleksei Kruchonykh with music by Mikhail Matyushin, Malevich created the stage designs and costumes. Similar to his paintings, the costumes incorporated key colors and simple forms such as cubes and cylinders. The stage that symbolized night and day was comprised of black and white simple structures as if to foreshadow the later dawn of Suprematism. A video of this opera production, Malevich’s costume designs and his stage design sketches are a key display of our exhibit.

Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde
19 Oct. 2013 – 2 Feb. 2014
Stedelijkmuseum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10
1071 DJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Monday to Sunday 10:00-18:00 (Thursday till 22:00)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

TodaysArt 2013

Fig.2 One of the venues, former Ministry of Interior

The annual fall media arts festival “TodaysArt” took place once again in The Hague, the Netherlands this year over the weekend of Sept. 27 and 28.

Following the opening ceremony at one of the venues, the Atrium of the City Hall, Morton Subotnick, a pioneer of the electronic music world, performed Silver Apples of the Moon together with video artist Lillevan. Subotnick played this groundbreaking piece on an analog synthesizer comprised of both analog and digital components.

Fig.1 Ryoji Ikeda – test pattern
The Japanese artists are also worthy of mention.
On opening day, Atsuhiro Ito, known for using fluorescent tubes as an instrument, presented a collaboration with Diamond Version. On the second day, Ryoji Ikeda, who converts data into audiovisual, made his first appearance in TodaysArt with a presentation of his Test Pattern. Black and white lines flickering at high speed reflected onto the City Hall building (designed by Richard Meier) amid a gently flowing background noise(Fig.1).

The other main venue was the 19-storey former Ministry of Interior, located adjacent to the City Hall(Fig.2). A stage and bar were installed in the lower floors, resulting in the unusual sight of people dancing ‘til dawn to music in an area where entry was once highly restricted. The higher floors were converted into art exhibit spaces so that visitors walked through the large building as if on an expedition.

The third venue was Cocky Eek’s Sphaerae, a pavilion that linked the two other venues. Numerous music and light performances took place beneath the dome ceiling that resembled a planetarium(Fig.3).

     Fig.3 Venue:'Sphæræ' by Cocky Eek
     Work: Yamila Ríos + Joris Strijbos – COVEX
In the performances over two days, objects, music and light that permeate our daily lives were broken up, expanded and augmented, and transformed into works of art.

Since its first exhibition in 2005, TodaysArt has struggled against the economic environment to maintain its unique style. Future presentations beyond this ninth endeavor will not be easy amid continuing budget cuts in the arts. But the jarring concept of staging a bar and dance floor in the official spaces of the City Hall and former Ministry of Interior are worth noting. The organizers are looking overseas, including Japan, as possible venues for future exhibits.

NTV Europe is a supporter of TodaysArt.
* More photos are on our Facebook page. (Click here)


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Oskar Kokoschka Exhibit

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, photo Hans Wilschut

“Oskar Kokoschka – Portraits of People and Animals,” currently showing at the Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays 148 paintings and sketches by Oskar Kokoschka. As one of Austria’s representative contemporary artists, alongside Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, Kokoschka is often categorized as an expressionist painter. But he maintained his independence from the artist movements such as the Vienna Secession, Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) or Die Brücke (The Bridge).

Kokoschka created many portraits during his career, including sketches and lithographs, and many of his most representational works are also portraits. Rather than depict his subjects in formal settings, Kokoschka preferred to capture them in natural situations such as friends in a conversation or at dinner or children mesmerized in play. His observations resulted in illustrating characteristic poses and unique expressions. In a 1966 television interview, Kokoschka said he was interested in the “aura of a person in space.” The subjects of his work seem to radiate light from within to their surrounding environment.

From 1926 and into the following year, Kokoschka took a strong interest in animals. Living in London at the time, the artist obtained permission to work outside of visitors’ hours at the zoo at Regent Park. His paintings include those of a tigon (a cross between a tiger and lion), crocodile and deer. Among these works is Mandrill. Kokoschka offered a banana to the mandrill every time he went to the zoo. But the mandrill not only didn’t show signs of affection but continued to display a menacing growl. The artist sensed the true determination of a beast to never be tamed and decided to paint the mandrill, not in its cage but in the rich natural setting of a jungle.

Kokoschka worked with a permanent quest to capture the spirit of his subjects. And his resulting portrayals in dramatic colors of the essence of his subjects continue to make a deep impression on their viewers.

Oskar Kokoschka – Portraits of People and Animals until January 19, 2014. (closed Monday Dec 25 and Jan 1)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
the Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-17:00
Closed on Mondays, Jan 1, Apr 27, Dec 25

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Reynold Reynolds “Lost” Volkspaleis (The Hague) Exhibit

Stills: Reynold Reynolds, The Lost, 2013, 7-channel film installation. Courtesy Reynold Reynolds/West
Foto locatie: Jhoeko

A feature film under production in 1930s Berlin. Like many movies from those days, its filming is stopped under censorship of the Nazi authorities, and the movie never sees the light of day. That is until artist Reynold Reynolds (born in 1966 in Alaska) stumbles upon remnants of the film and spends three years reconstructing it. The resulting “The Lost,” along with various objects associated with the original movie, is currently on display as part of the Volkspaleis event at an electric power station in The Hague.

A team of 20 experts examined the cache of film-related materials. It included in addition to the footage, sketches and storyboards, production notes, costumes and props. Nearly all of the footage is black and white 16-millimeter film and was shot around the world. Some of the filming was done while showing the movie to the public. At the exhibit, the two-and-a-half-hour-long film is shown split among seven enormous screens in the 2,500 square meter exhibit site.

The story follows the lives of a writer who lives in a cabaret in Berlin, a photographer and other artists and cabaret dancers. The movie employs unique filming techniques to capture and intermittently reveal the clash between a hedonistic lifestyle embodied in music, alcohol and homosexuality and the police authorities under the Nazi regime that loathe those elements.
The film is packed with themes that were taboo at the time and the unconventional presentations of them. The film presents a raw portrayal of the internal struggles of artists living in the suffocating environment of censorship that transforms into a world of fantasy.

At the sprawling exhibit where several screens simultaneously show parts of the film, not necessarily in sequence and with a mixing up of scenes and actors, it’s easy to lose one’s sense of footing. So it’s important to take the time to experience the world of this film. Still, mysteries remain as to whether the footage and displayed props are originals from the 1930s or replicas created by the artist Reynold Reynolds. The seven films and exhibited props seem to form a giant whirlpool that slowly swirls the viewer around pre-war Berlin and current day.

“There is no end to this work,” says Marie-José Sondeijker of West which organized the exhibit. She decided to hold the exhibit at the power plant after concluding her own gallery was too white and too small.
This is the second hosting of the Volkspaleis outside of her gallery. That is a radical step out from the insular world of art in the direction of the general public.

Volkspaleis Until October 6th

E.On Elektriciteitsfabriek
Constant Rebecquepln 20
2518 RA Den Haag
Groenewegje 136
2515 LR, Den Haag
The Netherlands
+31 (0)70 392 53 59
Volkspaleis opening times:
13 September — 6 October 2013
Wed — Sun 14:00 — 20:00

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Exhibitions Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Edvard Munch

Fig.1 Edvard Munch: The Scream, 1893,
Tempera and crayon on cardboard,
91 x 73.5cm, National Museum of Art,
Architecture and Design, Oslo,
© Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group /
BONO, Oslo 2013,
Photo: © Børre Høstland, National Museum,
© Munch-museet / Munch-Ellingsen Gruppen /
The year 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch, and his home country of Norway is humming with Munch Year events. In the capital of Oslo, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and the Munch Museum are co-hosting the exhibition “Munch 150.” The exhibit looks back on Munch’s career through 220 paintings and 50 prints and other works selected from the more than 20,000 pieces that the artist referred to as “my children.”

Munch is known for his works on the themes of life and death that can be traced back to his experience of losing family members at a young age.
Munch’s mother died when he was five and his sister when he was 13. The deaths drove his father, who was a doctor, to mental illness. The girl portrayed in his early work The Sick Child is Munch’s beloved older sister who died from tuberculosis. Hopelessness and loneliness arising from the successive deaths in his family as well as constant anxieties and fears of illness and death due to his own sickliness were a major influence on Munch’s works.

Upon moving to Berlin in 1892, Munch started what would become his lifework The Frieze of Life. The works in this series depict love and betrayal, anxieties, jealousy and death. Among the paintings were his major pieces, The Scream (Fig. 1), Vampire and Madonna. Munch envisioned The Frieze of Life as a series of decorative pictures that together would portray life as a whole. Rather than independent pieces, he created the paintings to resonate among each other like parts of a symphony. Munch showed the 22 works that comprise The Frieze of Life at the 1902 Berlin Secession Exhibition. At the Munch 150 exhibit, the frieze will be recreated for the first time in 110 years.

Fig.2 Edvard Munch: The Sun, 1911, Olje på lerret, 455 x 780 cm, Universitetet i Oslo, Aulaen,
© Munch-museet / Munch-Ellingsen Gruppen / BONO 2013,
Photo: © Munch-museet , © Munch-museet / Munch-Ellingsen Gruppen / BONO
In 1909, at age 45, Munch returned to Norway. Coming into contact once again with the plentiful nature of his homeland after many years abroad, Munch’s works took a turn toward harmony and tradition. In 1916, he completed the 11-piece mural The University Aula in the auditorium of the University of Oslo. The piece in the main end of the auditorium illuminates the room with strong rays from The Sun (Fig. 2) while the other works show Norway’s abundant nature blessed by this sunlight. After finishing this work, Munch continued actively with murals including The Freia Freize for a chocolate factory and a piece for the Oslo city hall. The artist whose works ranged from The Scream tormented with despair to The Sun brimming with hope died on January 23, 1944.

The exhibit takes place at two sites. The works from 1882 to 1903 are on display at the National Museum. The works from 1904 to 1944 are on display at the Munch Museum. Munch 150 will be shown until October 13, 2013.
National Gallery of Norway
Universitetsgata 13
0164 Oslo, Norway
+47 21 98 20 00
Tøyengata 53,
0578 Oslo, Norway
+47 23 49 35 00
Opening times:
Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10:00-17:00
Thur 10:00-19:00

Friday, 6 September 2013

“The Goddess at the Louvre” Undergoing Construction Treatment

©Victoire de Samothrace, Musée du Louvre
The conservation treatment of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Greek sculptural masterpiece housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and its exhibition space, is currently taking place.
The statue is also called Nike in Greek, meaning the messenger goddess Victory. She was constructed in the 2nd century B.C. and was discovered on the island of Samothrace in the Aegean Sea. By capturing the exact moment of the Goddess landing on the prow of the ship, with her wings still widely spread, the creator of this magnificent monument truly grips the hearts of those who see her with her strength and beauty.

Although it is unfortunate that visitors to the Louvre from all over the world will not be able to view this masterpiece during the restoration, she will reappear next spring, after the cleaning of the Paros marble (from which the statue is made) is complete.
In addition, the Daru staircase, which showcases the Winged Victory, is known to be the most effective setting to dramatize the encounter. A visitor’s first sighting of the Winged Victory will likely be from the bottom of the Daru staircase, looking up to her at the top. Climbing the stairs one step at a time, the visitor approaches the goddess — a truly magical experience!

The great project to conserve the Winged Victory and its entire exhibition space will be completed in 2015, according to the Louvre’s plans.For more details, please check the special Louvre website dedicated to the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the restoration project.The Louvre also invites individual donors to support the project. Details can be found on the same website.

Nippon Television Holdings also supports this restoration project.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Exhibit: “Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure”

“If music be the food of love, play on;” Twelfth Night, Shakespeare

Painters in the 17th century Netherlands had a strong affinity for music with more than one in ten of the works from the Dutch Golden Age incorporating such themes. Twelve of the existing 36 paintings by Johannes Vermeer include musical references. The current exhibit in London “Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure” displays five of these works by Vermeer, along with paintings with musical motifs by his contemporaries Gerard ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, Jan Steen and Pieter de Hooch.

Music in the Netherlands of that era was not a complex, lofty art, but rather a popular pastime for all classes. People enjoyed simple and accessible musical entertainment such as chamber music performed and sung in their own homes, often holding concerts with friends. Music as part of one’s life was frequently depicted in the forms of various symbols in paintings. In portraits, the depiction of music scores and instruments signaled the social status and talents of the subject while in illustrations of scenes of daily life, the musical items revealed the intellectual and social status of the people in the picture.

The important role of harmony in music became a metaphor for the romantic relationship between a man and a woman. Scenes of music lessons in particular were popular as they offered the rare occasion of a natural setting in which an unmarried man and woman could be together. In Gabriel Metsu’s painting, a male music teacher has stopped a lesson to offer his young female pupil a glass of wine. In the background of Metsu’s “A Man and a Woman seated by a Virginal,” (Fig. 1) we see behind a curtain, a portion of a picture of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” which foreshadows what will happen to the two people in the painting.

Fig. 1
Gabriel Metsu (1629 - 1667)
A Man and a Woman seated by a Virginal
about 1665, oil on oak
38.4 x 32.2 cm
The National Gallery, London, Inv. NG839
© The National Gallery, London
Fig. 2
Johannes Vermeer (1632 - 1675)
The Music Lesson
about 1662-3, oil on canvas
73.3 x 64.5 cm
Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013

Fig. 3
Johannes Vermeer (1632 - 1675)
A Young Woman seated at a Virginal
about 1670-2, oil on canvas
51.5 x 45.5 cm
The National Gallery, London, Inv. NG2568
© The National Gallery, London

Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” (Fig. 2) portrays a woman playing the virginal and a man listening intently. The woman seems to be focusing on her music, but her reflection in the mirror above her head reveals she is looking toward the man suggesting she has intimate feelings for him. Inscribed on the lid of the virginal are the words “Musica Letitae Comes Medicina Doloris” (“Music is a companion in pleasure, and a balm in sorrow”) which allude to the inner thoughts of the woman. At the time, the virginal symbolized the female voice and the viol that of the male. The viola da gamba lies behind the woman as if waiting to be played in harmony with the virginal. Such drama between a man and a woman is hidden within this tranquil painting.

The artists began to devise ways to draw viewers in as active participants of the unfolding romances in the paintings instead of letting us remain simply observers. The women portrayed in Vermeer’s “A Young Woman seated at a Virginal” (Fig. 3) and Gerard Dou’s “Woman at the Clavichord” cast appealing gazes toward the viewer as if inviting us to pick up and play the viols at their sides.

Music may very well be the key to deciphering 17th century Dutch paintings.

The exhibit displays viols, guitars and virginals from the 17th century and will also host musical performances from the era from Thursdays through Saturdays.

“Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure” runs until September 8, 2013.

The National Gallery, London
Trafalgar Square,
London WC2N 5DN
The United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7747 2885
Opening times:
Mondays – Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays 10:00 – 18:00
Fridays 10:00 – 21:00

Monday, 12 August 2013

History and Design go hand in hand at the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam

Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy

With its mix of guest rooms ranging from one star to five stars, The Lloyd Hotel is unlike any other. Inside the rooms might be grand pianos, beds long enough to fit seven to eight people, soundproofing fixtures strong enough for concerts, a bathtub and swing set up in the rafters or a gigantic kitchen. This place is filled to the brim with the playfulness typical of Dutch design.
There’s also a lot of interiors with movable parts, or you can just freely use any of the furniture in the corridor. Different from a regular hotel, the bathroom and toilet might be right in the middle of the room, or furnished in another such way to draw the eye. In these guest rooms you could bring in a room divider, take a shower right alongside your bed, or submerse yourself in the tub; they propose and allow an entirely different use of time and space than in our daily lives.

5-star room. Bath area is designed by MVRDV.
The Lloyd Hotel, located on Amsterdam Harbor’s eastern wharf, draws its name from the original owner of the building, the shipping company Lloyd. Originally constructed as a hotel where emigrants to South America could have a physical examination and a few days’ rest, at that time as many as nine hundred people could stay at the hotel. After Royal Dutch Lloyd went bankrupt in 1935, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII, the building was used to hold members of the underground resistance. After the war ended, it turned into a regular penitentiary, and later again a reformatory centre for youth. From the second half of the 1980s, it was put to use as studio space for artists.

Between 1989 and 1999, artists created work, lived and interacted there.
They took down the walls creating the melancholy and enclosed impression, and brought about a complete change with what came before: an open space and open atmosphere, in which a variety of people could come and go. The open-minded and creative spirit of the artists was taken over by Suzanne Oxenaar and Otto Nan, the founders of the current Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy, and this can be seen all over the hotel in different forms.

When the building was being renovated for use as a hotel, what counted most was the concepts of “a release from the dark past” and “welcoming the sense of playfulness, bringing the space alive”. The Dutch architecture agency MVRDV made the central area of the hotel into a light and open atrium. Inside the building is the Cultural Embassy; which lives up to its name, always surrounded in works of contemporary art and design. For example: on the top floor, there is Suchan Kinoshita’s work, at the entrance to the restaurant and café, which are popular locally as well, the work “Lloyd Life” is on display, by the Amsterdam-based artist Chikako Watanabe. Moreover, in the upper reaches of the café, there is a library, and space provided for exhibitions and workshops, where visitors can walk around freely. At Lloyd Hotel and the Cultural Embassy, design and art have integrated to create an experience for all five senses, and its attitude and conception of remembering its history with respect is mesmerizing.

*Click here for more photos.

Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy
Oostelijke Handelskade 34
1019 BN Amsterdam
The Netherlands
t: +31205613636

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Van Gogh at Work

Fig. 1 Vincent van Gogh Self portrait as a painter
1887-1888, Paris, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of its opening, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is currently showing “Van Gogh at Work.” The exhibit traces a 10-year-period of Van Gogh’s growth as an artist through a collection of 200 items, including 150 paintings, sketches, sketchbooks, letters, paints and palettes. The exhibit is a compilation of an eight-year-long research project and presents in detail Van Gogh’s painting methods and actual drawing techniques.

“Self Portrait as a Painter” (Fig. 1) is often noted for its depiction of an artist fervently at work with attention focusing on Van Gogh’s facial expression. This exhibit examines Van Gogh’s art supplies. In the painting, the artist stands before an outdoor easel, holding a palette with paintbrushes in his hand. There are a total of seven flat and round brushes, the flat suited for painting surfaces and the round for filling in details. A study of the paints by the containers on the palette revealed that the orange was cadmium orange, and the deep blue to the left was a mix of cobalt blue and white lead.

Fig. 2 Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers,1889, Arles
Van Gogh Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
The second and third floors of the museum display photos and videos that explain the scientific investigations. To save money, Van Gogh often painted new works on top of canvasses of previously completed pieces. The Van Gogh Museum used X-ray photography to uncover earlier paintings on canvasses thought to have been recycled. There are also microscopes through which visitors can view samples of extracted paints to see the layering as well as three-dimensional replicas of portions of paintings that allow one to touch and feel the protrusion of such layers.
Fig. 3 Vincent van Gogh’s Pallete from Auvers Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Photography: Erik and Petra Hesmerg

Until August, two versions of “Sunflowers,” one owned by the Van Gogh Museum (Fig. 2) and the other from the National Gallery, London will be displayed on both sides of “Portrait of Augustine Roulin“ in a reincarnation of the “triptych” from Van Gogh’s sketchbook. From September, the museum will show all three versions of “Bedroom in Arles,” (the Van Gogh Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Musée d’Orsay). Also on display will be Van Gogh’s only remaining palette (Fig. 3) and three out of the four existing sketchbooks of the artist. This is a rare exhibit that fans of Van Gogh will not want to miss.

Van Gogh at Work. Through January 12, 2014.

Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
1071 CX Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 20 570 5200
Opening times:
May 1 – Sept 1, 2013 / Dec 27, 2013 – Jan 5, 2014: 9:00-18:00 (Fridays until 22:00)
Sept 2 - Dec 26, 2013 / Jan 6 - Jan 12, 2014: 10:00-17:00 (Fridays until 22:00)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Frans Hals Museum’s one-hundred year commemorative exhibitio

The Frans Hals Museum in the Dutch city of Haarlem recently celebrated its one hundredth birthday. The exhibition “Frans Hals: Eye to eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian”, featuring paintings by the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Frans Hals, representative of the Golden Age, and the works of the masters who influenced him, commemorates this event. It has been twenty-five years since a Hals exhibition of this scope was on show.

Hals was especially talented at portraits; the natural posing and movement of his models , their cheerful expressions are exactly living, breathing people. The painting “Laughing Boy” (image left) is a portrait of a young boy smiling a toothy, innocent grin. In seventeenth century art theory, painting a smiling expression was considered incredibly difficult, but Hals skillfully expressed an attractive smiling face with a deft touch.

At the hall in the back of the museum, is collected Hals’ vigilante corps’ collective portraits. In the Netherlands in the 17th century, which had just achieved independence from Spain, citizens organized vigilante groups for the purpose of defense and maintaining public order. They would sometimes order group portraits from painters. When at first collective portraits were painted, many paintings showed every subject’s face neatly aligned, like in a group photograph, but gradually movement was introduced onto the surface of the canvas, and the scene of the corps members at a banquet became popularised. While capturing each member’s facial expression and personality, Hals also depicted the affable scene of comrades smiling and drinking together at a lively banquet. The banquet dining table, reproduced at the centre of the hall, leaves the spectator somehow in the midst of their banquet.

The inner yard of the museu
In the exhibition rooms, the works by Hals and the other painters dealing with the same motifs are on display in such a manner that they can be compared with one another. One set, among them, features “The Lute Player” that Dirck van Baburen painted in 1622 and the “The Lute Player” painted by Hals in the following year. Van Baburen, who underwent extensive training in Rome, is one of the artists who brought the Caravaggio school’s preferred themes, such as people playing music, or at cards, to the Netherlands. Hals, receiving this new motif from Baburen, went on to paint many portraits of people playing instruments. The person depicted in “The Lute Player” smiles with great playfulness, and seems to be enjoying the music from the bottom of his heart.

In recent years research has proved that Hals, who was active in Haarlem, had exchanges with his contemporaries. This exhibition is an excellent opportunity to learn more of the influential relationships of seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish painting with the likes of Hals, Rembrandt and Rubens.

The exhibition will be open until 28 July (the museum is closed on Mondays)

Frans Hals Museum
Groot Heiligland 62
2011ES Haarlem
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Closed on Mondays
Tuesdays – Fridays 10:00 – 17:00
Saturdays – Sundays 11:00 – 18:00

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Tadasu Takamine exhibits in the Netherlands

The Eastern Japan earthquake disaster which occured on March 11th, 2011 brought on the accident of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s number one reactor. Ever since, a vague sense of anxiety regarding radioactivity has grown among us. This invisible anxiety is what the Japanese contemporary artist and stage director Takamine Tadasu has made visible through film works. These works are currently being displayed in Utrecht, at Casco’s exhibition Japan Syndrome – Utrecht Version.

Takamine brings contemporary problems to the surface in installations, media art and performances; his work is highly appreciated not only in Japan but around the world. Take for instance the work “God Bless America” (2002), a video work which takes for its starting point the criticism towards America’s forcing its way into a war in Iraq after 9/11. The film is produced in clay stop-motion animation. In it, a figure tries to beat an enormous creature, made of two tons of modeling clay, into singing “God Bless America”.

Tadasu Takamine, Japan Syndrome – Yamaguchi Version, 
video. ca. 30 min, still, 2012. Courtesy of Casco
The current exhibition is being held at two different locations: at the first, the video installation “Japan Syndrome –Utrecht Version” is on display. The “Japan Syndrome” is a series of dialogues re-enacted from the script Takamine created, based on exchanges about the fear of radioactive pollution and the influences of the nuclear disaster, which took place between local shop owners and performers, who joined the project by open invitation. There are three versions, of Yamaguchi, Kansai (Kyoto and Osaka) and Mito; and these three works are being displayed together at the Utrecht Version.

Opening “Japan Syndrome –Utrecht Version”
When asked about the safety of a product, there were shop employees who would recommend produce from areas far from Fukushima, or fish imported from outside Japan, and sympathize with customers about their apprehensions regarding radioactive pollution. However, most would reply, even while showing a glimpse of their own anxiety and fear, “it passed inspection, so it’s okay,” or “it’s a substance that’s in the air anyway, so there’s no problem,” and so on, repeating claims from national and regional safety declarations and scientists. In each video, the feeling is present that although everyone has their own doubts, you are obliged to maintain, in passive endorsement, that it is “safe” like the government says, like everyone says – for otherwise, you face the pro-active, unspeakable “danger”.

The second location, the Casco shop, is displaying the work “Nuclear Family” (2012). Ranging from the ground floor to the exhibition room below, peaceful photographs of Takamine’s family life are on view, alongside the history of nuclear tests throughout the world. Behind this peaceful life, the work hints, is nothing but extensive amounts of nuclear testing, and the truth that Japan’s peace has been protected all along by America’s nuclear weapons. Just then, on April 9th, the NPDI (Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative), consisting of a total of ten countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, including Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands, held a foreign ministerial conference in the Dutch city of The Hague. To discuss the future of nuclear power and its generation, surely the problems which were invisible until now need to be taken into consideration. It is these issues that Takamine’s work aims to make transparent, through the power of his art.

Tadasu Takamine, Nuclear Family. 1989
photo from installation
Takamine Tadasu: Japan Syndrome Utrecht Version is open until July 6 (closed on Mondays).


Nieuwekade 213-215
3511 RW Utrecht
The Netherlands
Casco shop
Voorstraat 88
3512AT Utrecht
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesdays – Sundays 12:00 – 18:00
Closed on Mondays

Friday, 3 May 2013

Grand opening at the Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum. Photo credit: Iwan Baan. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum

The Dutch city of Amsterdam’s National Art Museum, the Rijksmuseum, opened at last on the 13th of April 2013, after ten years of restoration work.
In its eighty exhibition rooms, which visit eight hundred years of Dutch art and history, including the 17th century, the Netherlands’ Golden Age, eight thousand items –carefully selected from the collection, numbering nine hundred and fifty thousand – are currently on display.
The restoration work was executed by the Spanish architecture agency Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos. Keeping to the slogan “Cuypers for the 21st century”, they honored the Rijksmuseum’s architect Pierre Cuypers, restoring the building to how it looked when it first opened in 1885 while transforming it into a museum suited to the 21st century.

The competition for the architectural design of the National Art Museum held in 1876 saw Pierre Cuypers (1872-1921) as its winner. Cuypers, having worked on more than one hundred buildings, including, among others, Amsterdam Central Station (1889), was one of the leading architects of the late 19th century Netherlands. The museum design he presented would provide three hundred and thirty-three exhibition rooms, adorned with spectacular decoration both indoors and out. According to his wishes, the Austrian painter Georg Sturm (1855-1923) took charge of the architectural decoration.
Upon the building’s completion, however, the issue arose that the splendid decorations interfered with the appreciation of the artworks, until at last in 1903, by reason of its being unsuited to the objects on display, one piece of wall was painted over. From the 1920s onwards, more and more of the decorations were removed or hidden, until the restoration work executed in the 1950s, which left the building far from its original design.

top left: Great Hall. Photo credit: Jannes Linders. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum
top right: Night Watch Gallery. Photo credit: Iwan Baan. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum
bottom left: Gallery of Honour. Photo credit: Iwan Baan. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum
bottom right: Great Hall. Photo credit: Jannes Linders. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum

One of the key aims of the most recent restoration was, to bring these decorations back to life, with an emphasis on the second floor’s Great Hall and Gallery of Honour. The Great Hall’s floor is made up of a mosaic, its large windows glitter with stained glass, and on the wall are artists, scholars and historical figures praising the arts and sciences in an allegorical painting(image at top left). Above the door of the Gallery of Honour, which neighbours the Great Hall, is painted the Allegories of ‘Hope, Faith and Love’ (image at bottom right). In the Gallery of Honour hang works by Vermeer, Hals, Ruisdael and others, representing the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. At the very back is the Night Watch Gallery, for Rembrandt’s great masterpiece, the Night Watch(image at top right). This amazing collection of works immediately draws one’s eye; but if you chance to look up, your vision will be filled with the elaborately wrought architectural decorations(image at bottom left).
In the ten Lunettes (the half-circles on the upper walls) are young women symbolizing the various fields of the arts, the craftsmen pursuing them, and the coats of arms of the city most closely connected to each field. For instance, the Lunette featuring Ceramics portrays a woman holding Delft earthenware, a ceramist, and the crest of South-Holland, the province to which Delft belongs. The Lunette is in praise of the craftsmen, who bring forth such excellent artwork, and of the Netherlands, which brought forth the craftsmen.

Simultaneous to the restoration, the addition of the Asian Pavilion was made, to bring Asian artwork under the public eye. The Philips Wing is still under construction (due to open late 2014), and will become a planned exhibition space. The National Art Museum of Amsterdam holds its history in high regard, while it continues its transformation into a museum that can match the transitions of the times.
Museumstraat 1
1071 CJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
9:00 to 17:00 daily, open 365 days a year

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Impressionist Caillebotte and Photography

Image1. Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor-Scrapers, 1875, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
An exhibition on the work of the impressionist painter Caillebotte is currently up showing at the Gemeentemuseum in the Dutch city of the Hague. Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894), who participated in impressionist exhibitions five times, is considered one of the exemplary painters of impressionism.
Raised in an affluent household, Caillebotte was able to support impressionism in a world that did not yet recognize it, by financing and buying works. At his death, he left the works in his possession to the French state. A great number of works currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris are there thanks to his efforts.

In 1874, Caillebotte visited the very first impressionist exhibition. Here he saw new paintings such as Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise”, filled with light, and was drawn in. It was right after visiting this first impressionist exhibition that Caillebotte painted “The Floor Scrapers” (image 1). It is an image of three laborers, scraping a floor with wood planes while sunlight coming in through a window bathes their backs in light. This work was praised by Edgar Degas and on his recommendation displayed in the second impressionist exhibition, where it received much praise.

Image2. Gustave Caillebotte Pont de l’Europe, 1876 – 1877
Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth, Texas
From that time Caillebotte took to drawing city sceneries and sights from his neighborhood and as seen from his Paris apartment. In the second half of the 19th century, the governor of the Seine prefecture, Haussmann, had Paris restructured into the wide avenues, parks and railway stations that we know today (also known as Paris’ haussmannization). In “The Europe Bridge” (image 2) we can see, beyond the bridge’s metal ribs, the station of Saint-Lazare. Caillebotte observed the scenery of his rapidly evolving modern city, and attempted to capture the change of the age.

Image3. Gustave Caillebotte, The Pont de l’Europesketch,
c.1876, Private Collection
The composition Caillebotte used in a study of the same Europe Bridge (image 3), drawn from a different angle, is extremely interesting. In this work the road, which fills a broad span of the foreground, converges at a steep angle behind the man in the silk hat. This characteristic use of perspective is due to the fact that Caillebotte related to photographs while painting.

Thanks to research by Kirk Varnedoe and Peter Gelassi, it has become clear that when Caillebotte was at the stage of selecting composition, he frequently used photographs taken with a wide-lens camera. While on the one hand a wide-lens allows for a wide area to be shot,  it also compresses this wide range, emphasizes the perspective. This effect has been applied to the painting by Caillebotte.

At this exhibition, there is one room displaying stereoscopes of Paris city sceneries, contemporary to Caillebotte. Stereoscopy refers to a construction in which one can view a double photograph with a special pair of glasses, through which the images will unite and appear three-dimensional. Peering through, the optical illusion allows anyone to imagine themselves a time traveller, visiting 19th century Paris. In viewing these photographs together with Caillebotte’s work, we can know one expression of the revolution that photography brought upon painting.

The exhibition of Gustave Caillebotte’s work is open until May 20 (the museum is closed on Mondays).
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
2517 HV The Hague
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesdays - Sundays 11:00 - 17:00
Closed on Mondays

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lichtenstein, A Retrospective

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!,1963, Tate. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

On February 21 a retrospective exhibition opened at Tate Modern, of Roy Lichtenstein, one of the central figures of American Pop Art. It is the first large-scale retrospective exhibition of his work since Lichtenstein passed away in 1997 at the age of seventy-three. With the collection of one hundred and twenty-five works from his early days to his late years, it becomes possible to look back over Lichtenstein’s paintings and the borderline they balance between art and mass culture. Lichtenstein is known for his work in which he enlarges single panels from comics. His active years, the 1960s, are the period in which Andy Warhol and his factory first drew from mass media and surrounding urban settings, as well as mass media and the world of commercials, to start producing work.

Roy Lichtenstein, Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But…, 1964, 
Collection Simonyi © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

In 1962, Lichtenstein displayed shocking work at Leo Castelli gallery in New York, that overthrew the noble image of art that people had. This work was a painting named “Look, Mickey”. It was the famous Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, in a painting. The characteristics of comic books, such as the emphasized lines and simple coloring, had been reproduced in oil paints to paint these cartoon characters on an enormous canvas. Lichtenstein had transformed the mass-produced, widely circulated printed matter of the cartoon illustration, into a work of art.
Due to its motifs and his manner of painting, his work is often mistaken as simply the enlargement of a piece of printed matter. But is that really all?

For instance, let’s take a look at one of his most important pieces, “Whaam!” This painting is a panel from a comic about a fighter pilot, “Star Jocky”, published in 1962 in the compilation “All American Men of War”. If we compare it to the scene from the comic that inspired it: the background has been eliminated, the lines and coloring have been cleaned up, and the image has been reshaped into a composition with all the more impact. When viewed up close, the dot matrix used by printed matter is visible, but when studied more closely, we see that the precisely arranged dots have not been produced mechanically, but are entirely hand-painted. Although Lichtenstein’s motifs drew from mass-produced printed matter, because he allowed for alteration and hand-painted everything, his works became unique paintings.

 The retrospective also features works that are not nearly so well-known, such as paintings of female nudes, and his landscapes in the Chinese style. His series of paintings, Art History, which recreates artworks in Lichtenstein’s own style, seems to hurtle a challenge at modern art’s views on originality. This retrospective exhibition provides us with a wonderful opportunity to know the many different sides to Roy Lichtenstein.

The exhibition Lichtenstein: A Retrospective will be open from 21 February to 27 May at Tate Modern (open all days).
Tate Modern
Bankside London SE1 9TG United Kingdom
Opening times:
Sun - Thurs 10:00 - 18:00, Fri & Sat 10:00 - 22:00

Monday, 18 February 2013

Dalí the Genius -Centre Pompidou

The expression of his unique view of the world; the eccentric appearance characterised by his long moustache; his presence in the tales of numerous scandals -it is none other than the twentieth-century artist Salvador Dalí. At present, a large scale retrospective is open at Centre Pompidou in Paris. It features not only paintings, sketches, and sculptural work, but also photographs, film, and the television program in which Dalí appeared, in a total of two hundred works.

Among his numerous masterpieces, there is “The Persistence of Memory” (also frequently called “Melting Clocks”). This piece, painted in a superior technique, gives us a world in which reality and dream are strangely intertwined. Although one of the most famous of Dali’s work, when it is before your eyes it is shockingly small - a mere 24 x 33 centimeters. On this small canvas, with the seashore by the Porto Rigato, where Dali’s atelier was located, for the background, Dali’s face is delivered to us like a piece of meat beside these impossible, limp clocks. The long eyelashes make you think of an insect that might start to move at any moment. The piece / Dali’s view on paintings becomes plainly visible: ‘paintings are hand-drawn photographs made of the world generally imagined as a tangible illogicality.’

The second half of the exhibition does its best to carry you even deeper into Dali’s world: an installation inspired by the American actress Mae West. This work is her portrait - a chair in the shape of lips, furniture in the shape of a nose, curtains which look like hair, and so on - a room remodeled to a sculpture. Here viewers literally step inside the work, and can even photograph themselves inside.

After seeing Dali’s original work even once, it sticks in your memory; his eccentric appearance, too, makes an intense impression on people. It’s possible that his long, pointy moustache and his peculiar face are even more famous than his work. Dali excelled at self-production, called himself a genius, behaved in ways that departed from common sense, and constantly provided the topic for newspapers, television and other media. Among so many artists who despised commercial works and show business, Dali’s enthusiastic exposure towards media drew much attention and played a great part in establishing his fame. However, do we really believe in this ‘genius’ that he created?

At this exhibition the ‘genius’ image Dali created is questioned, but his work courteously visited, to attempt to throw into relief the essential form of Dali.

The Dali exhibitionis open until March 25th. (Museum is closed on Tuesdays).

Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
Opening Times:
11:00-23:00  Closed on Tuesday

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Road to Van Eyck opens in Rotterdam

Jan van Eyck, The Three Marys at the Tomb, c. 1430-1435. Panel, 71.5 x 90 cm.

The exhibition “The Road to Van Eyck” centering on 15th century Dutch painting has opened at the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam. On view are over ninety works by Jan van Eyck, the perfector of oil-painting technique, and his contemporaries. Never before has such a number of works been gathered in one place as this; and since many of the old works have become very fragile, the chances of ever recreating the same scale of exhibition seem slim.

At the time Jan van Eyck was active as a painter, a period in which artists were creating works all across Europe, and the centres of trade -Amsterdam, Cologne, and so on- not only completed trade transactions but also moved these works of art across national borders. In the midst of all this, Van Eyck studied the works of numerous artists, polishing his skills until he achieved his superior power of expression. Work created by him was met with the highest praise, and continued to influence many painters after him.

Jan van Eyck, The Annunciation, c. 1430-1435.
Oak, transferred on to canvas in St Petersburg
after 1864,  92.7 x 36.7 cm.
Washington DC, National Gallery of Art,
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
In this exhibition, multiple precious works by Van Eyck are on display. In the Turin-Milan Hours we see the culmination of Van Eyck’s earliest work, the minute depictions of which invite the viewer to anticipate his future work. In The Annunciation, the scene of the visit by the archangel Gabriel to the Holy Mother Mary, to announce to her that she is carrying the child of God, has been painted in extravagant colors and delicate brush strokes. Gabriel’s rainbow-colored wings and magnificent robe, the complicated structure of the church interior and the decoration of the floor, all have been expressed to an abundant tactility, by an overwhelming power of depiction.

The painting, The Three Marys at the Tomb which Boijmans van Beuningen possesses, had long been thought to be a work by Van Eyck older brother Hubert; however, there has been contention that it is in fact Jan van Eyck’s work, and it is as of yet a topic on which specialists remain divided. Both Hubert and Jan worked on what would become known as the masterpiece of Ghent: Saint Bavo Cathedral’s altarpiece, the polyptych Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. On an inscription on a frame, discovered during an 1823 restoration of the altarpiece, Hubert was designated as maior quo nemo repertus (greater than anyone) and Jan as arte secundus (second best in the art). At present, however, there are neither any works nor records which are reliably connected to Hubert. The painting The Three Marys at the Tomb is one of a few essential clues left through which we might know the enigmatic painter Hubert.

The Three Marys at the Tomb was restored for the exhibition, and its vivid colors and delicate expression are now more clearly present than before; the restoration process has been made public and is viewable on the Boijmans website. Furthermore, restoration work started on Gent’s Altarpiece on October 2nd, 2012. Although restoration should take five years, only a few panels are to be restored at a time, which means that every panel apart from those being currently restored will be on display at Saint Bavo Cathedral in Gent.

The Road to Van Eyck is open until February 10th. The museum is closed on Mondays, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
the Netherlands
Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00-17:00
Closed on Mondays (except Easter Monday and Whitmonday), 1 January, 30 April (Queensday) and 25 December.