Monday, 7 December 2015

From Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life

The exhibition From Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life is currently underway at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The exhibition displays a survey of works from the pioneer of genre painting Hieronymus Bosch to the peasant painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Sixteenth century Europe was an era in which the authority of the Catholic Church was losing ground, and new views of the relationship between God and man based on humanism and religious reformation were being introduced. At the time, people were also being liberated from the restrictions of the Bible by movements such as Calvinism. The genre painters depicted that era and its people with striking acerbity: peasants, mercenaries, beggars and loose women, people gorging on food, seeped in liquor, sex-obsessed and lazy, and henpecked husbands. The urbanite purchasers of these works mocked in particular the peasants as “ignorant fools.”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Peasant and the Birdnester (fig.1) portrays a man about to fall out of a tree he has climbed to steal a bird’s nest, and a peasant pointing to the man and laughing at him. The peasant is laughing at the blunder of another, but he himself doesn’t realize he is one step away from falling into a river. At first glance the piece appears to be portraying the stupidity of a peasant, but it is said that when Bruegel created this piece, he had in mind the satirical In Praise of Folly by Erasmus that parodies philosophers as simple-minded people who don’t notice the dangers ahead of them.

The genre painters often depicted tax collectors, bankers and lawyers dressed up in outmoded fancy clothes, appearing far removed from everyday life. As greedy, money-obsessed people, they were the objects of derision.

Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life Until January 17, 2016 (Closed Mondays)

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
the Netherlands
31 20 570 5200

Opening times:

Tue-Sun  11:00-17:00
5, 24, 31 Dec 11:00-16:00

Closed :

on Mondays (except Easter Monday and Whitmonday), 1 January, 27 April (Kingsday; in 2014 on 26 April) and 25 December. The museum closes at 4 pm on Saint Nicholas' night December 5th, Christmas Eve December 24th and New Year's Eve December 31st.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Munch: Van Gogh Exhibition

fig.1 Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait with Palette,
1926. Private collection

The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944, fig.1) and the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890, fig.2) never had a chance to meet during their lifetimes. But they embarked on their artistic careers at the same time and lived in Paris at the same time, avidly absorbing the new art scene. And both painters took up extremely similar themes. While their journeys as painters took similar paths, each produced very different paintings. The Munch: Van Gogh exhibit currently at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, examines the similarities and differences between the two, based on many years of joint research by the Van Gogh Museum and Oslo’s Munch Museum.

Van Gogh was born ten years before Munch, but their work as artists started at around the same time in the 1880s. Influenced by the naturalist painters in their home countries, they both took up traditional subject matters and were restrained in their use of color. But both soon felt unfulfilled with orthodox painting and set off to the art capital of Paris. Munch went in 1885, and Van Gogh in the following year of 1886.

fig.2 Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait as a Painter,
1887-1888. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Although living in Paris at the same time, the two did not meet. However, both admired Monet’s expression of light and color, were inspired by the portraits of Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec, experienced Pissarro’s pointillism and incorporated the perspectives of Caillebotte. Soaking up new ideas like a sponge, both artists began developing their own style.

A further trait that tied these two artists closely together was their pursuit of the essence of the existence of humanity and its significance. They steadfastly explored unanswerable fundamental and universal issues such as the constant cycle of life and death or the fear and pain that arises from the loss of love and hope. Strangely, both incurred self-inflicted wounds triggered by troubled relationships. Van Gogh took up these themes in Augustine Roulin (La Berceuse), Wheatfield under Thunderclouds and Garden of the Asylum. Munch examined them in The Starry Night, The Scream, The Sick Child and Madonna.

Thus it can be seen that despite mastering the same painting techniques and working on similar themes, the two artists produced widely contrasting works. This is apparent if we compare the representative pieces of each: Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Munch’s The Scream. Van Gogh depicted reality after repeated practice to perfect his technique while Munch captured reality without being bound by what he saw. That difference highlights the individuality of the two painters.

Munch: Van Gogh Until Jan. 17

Van Gogh Museum
Museumplein 6
1071 DJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 20 570 5200

Opening times:
Friday 25 December: 9 am to 5 pm
26 - 31 December 2015 9 am to 6 pm
1 January 2016: 11 am to 10 pm
2 - 17 January 2016 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays until 10 pm
All other days: 9 am to 5 pm and Fridays until 10 pm

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Dick Bruna. Artist

Illustration Dick Bruna © copyright Mercis bv, 1997

The cute little rabbit Miffy first appeared in a Dutch picture book sixty years ago, on June 21, 1955. Since then the character has been loved by children from around the world. The Rijksmuseum of the Netherlands is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the birth of Miffy in the exhibition “Dick Bruna. Artist,” that showcases the man who sent Miffy out into the world.

When putting his young son to bed, Bruna used to tell stories about a rabbit that they once saw together. This rabbit would become Miffy. Bruna envisioned the rabbit wearing a dress when he saw a piece by Matisse, he recalled years later.
Bruna first came into contact with Matisse when he visited Paris while preparing to take over his family’s publishing business. During breaks from work he frequented art museums and galleries and was stunned by the work of Matisse, Leger and Picasso. Until then, Bruna had enjoyed looking at collected works of Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Now he was deeply impressed by these artists’ abstract and simple shapes using one color and the bold lines that formed them.

Dick Bruna at the Rijksmuseum in 2011.
Photo: Rijksmuseum
During one period, Bruna worked hard to try to master the smooth and flowing lines of Matisse. “In my drawings of that time you can see that I was trying to be like Matisse, without imitating him,” he recalls. There are clear similarities between their works such as circular smooth lines, but of course there are also differences. Matisse moved his brush swiftly without pause, and the same line could vary in degrees of thickness and gradations, while Bruna moves his brush cautiously to achieve a solid outline.

Bruna emulated the lines of Matisse, but his creativity was also stimulated by the clear line drawing and minimalist use of colors of Picasso, Braque and Leger. And the works of Gerrit Rietveld, a member of the Dutch artistic movement De Stijle, influenced the square form that characterizes Miffy’s picture books. The exhibit displays the works of these artists alongside those of Bruna so that we may see Bruna as an artist rather than a picture book author.

Dick Bruna. Artist. Until November 15.
Museumstraat 1
1071 CJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Open daily 9:00-17:00

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots

An exhibition focusing on the final years (1951-1953) of Jackson Pollock, “Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots,” is underway this summer at the Tate Liverpool. Pollock’s last years reveal a dramatic shift from his vigorous creative processes employing the techniques of “pouring” and “dripping” – terms that have become synonymous with his name. Until now this period of his life has not been the subject of major examination.

Pollock’s life has the drama of a movie character. He shot to fame after the prominent collector Peggy Guggenheim discovered him in the 1930s when he was painting in New York and struggling with mental instability and alcoholism. Pollock garnered attention with his “action paintings” where he poured and dripped paint on a large canvas spread out on the floor. He created numerous historic masterpieces until his peak in the 1950s. (Fig.1)

In the techniques of “pouring” and “dripping” that Pollock invented, highly fluid paints flow onto a canvas spread out on the ground. Pollock produced one masterpiece after another this way, spinning out subtle and unconstrained long lines that could not have been painted by hand.

But this period during which Pollock used these techniques to create pieces with only pure lines lasted just four years. From 1951, concrete images of humans and animals appeared on his canvas, and his colors shifted to the mainly monochrome of black and white. It was as if Pollock were denying his seemingly established techniques and abstract expression. In “Portrait and a Dream” (Fig.2, 1953), on the left side, the full body of a woman can be seen, and on the right side, the face of a woman is discernible. Pollock feared a conventionalization of his style and attempted to constantly transform his art in order to create pieces that nudged a viewer’s blind spot. But perhaps due to depression triggered by the struggle to create new works or distress from the poor reception of his 1951 show, Pollock descended into alcoholism once again, and in 1956 died at the young age of 44 in a car accident, leaving this world like a shooting star.

The exhibition Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots is until 18 October 2015 (Open every day during exhibition period).
Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool, Waterfront
United Kingdom
Opening times:
Mon—Sun 10:00-17:50
First Wednesday of every month 10:30-17:50
Closed on 3 April and 24–26 December 2015

Monday, 27 July 2015

Rembrandt? The case of Saul and David

Fig.1 Saul and David after restoration, Photographer: © Margareta Svensson, credits: Mauritshuis, Den Haag
Saul and David (fig.1), one of the masterpieces of the Mauritshuis, disappeared from the center stage, since Horst Gerson, a Rembrandt expert and authority in his time, questioned the attribution of the painting to Rembrandt in 1969. After the research and restoration of the painting started in 2007 by the Mauritshuis, this painting is in the spotlight once again at the exhibition “Rembrandt? The Case of Saul and David”, which has been showing since June.

The painting Saul and David represents two biblical figures – Saul, the first king of Kingdom of Israel and David, a skillful harp player, whose soothing music gave Saul great comfort. But after David killed the Philistine giant Goliath, Saul became jealous of David’s victory and tried to arrange for his death. In many paintings depicting these two figures, Saul is portrayed with a spear in his hand trying to kill David from jealousy, as Rembrandt also painted Saul with a spear in his hand in his work of the same theme around 1629. However, in this painting of Saul and David, which was put under a research this time, Saul is portrayed as being moved by David’s music, wiping away his tears with the curtain, with his hands only touching on the spear. This inconsistency in treating the same subject, comparing to his past work, caused the question to the attribution of this painting.

Fig.2 Saul and David on restoration infrared,
Photographer: © Ivo Hoekstra, credits: Mauritshuis, Den Haag
The painting was researched mainly by the curators and the restorers of the Mauritshuis, with a committee composed of international experts. After the process of removing the touches and colors added in the past restoration, there emerged a dramatic revelation: The current painting consists of no fewer than fifteen different pieces of canvas and only two large pieces were from the original, one with Saul and the other with David. The research also showed that the original painting was larger. It was reduced in size, cutting away 10 cm at the bottom and 5 cm on the left.

Even after the true nature of the painting was revealed by removing the touches and colors added in the past restoration and through the research using the latest technology such as X ray photography, the Mauritshuis hesitated to fully attribute this work to Rembrandt. This was because the retouches were made to the painting several years after its completion and certain clumsiness, on a delicately finished part of the work such as the cloak of Saul, was detected. It was not clear whether it had been done by Rembrandt himself or by his pupil. Horst Gerson questioned this work in 1969 because he thought it was far from the technique of Rembrandt. The Mauritshuis, however, pursued the research further to analyze the pigments used on the work and finally decided to fully attribute it to Rembrandt by concluding that over time, the painting had lost its original touches and colors due to the past restorations.

This exhibition presents Saul and David and other works that were referred to in the research. You can follow the images on four screens for the detailed interpretation of the works. The experience may be similar to that of unraveling of a mystery movie: the provenance of the painting, the new discovery in the process of the restoration, and the final conclusion of the full attribution of the painting to Rembrandt reached by a large team of experts. This whole lecture will change the way you view Saul and David.

The exhibition Rembrandt? The case of Saul and David is until 13 September 2015

Mauritshuis Museum
Plein 29
2511 CS The Hague
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Mon 13:00—18:00 
Tue—Sun 10:00—18:00(Thurs till 20:00)
Special opening hours apply during holidays.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Oasis of Matisse

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is currently showing “The Oasis of Matisse,” an exhibit of more than 100 works of oils, sketches, prints and stained glass that trace the path that led to the artist’s conception of “cut-outs.” The exhibit culminates with the Stedelijk’s enormous cut-out The Parakeet and the Mermaid (1952-1953).

Artists have historically viewed line and color as long-standing opposing elements and struggled to harmonize them in their works. Matisse achieved one solution when he created the new technique of cut-outs. Describing the method as “drawing with scissors,” he would use paper coated with gouache and cut out motifs from them as if he were drawing lines with the scissors. By arranging the cut out pieces, he was able to express line and color in unison. As his words “drawing with scissors” convey, by sketching lines with scissors, Matisse was cutting and bringing out the spirit of colors. He was thus able to shape colors and harmonize line and color.

While cut-outs was a new technique, many of the motifs Matisse employed such as flowers and plants were subjects that he had favored from his early years. The motifs appearing often were scenes from his 1930s voyage to Tahiti that stunned the artist with their nearly blindingly powerful beauty of the South Seas paradise. The colorful cut-outs capture the constantly shifting colors of the blue ocean reflecting the strong sunlight, the birds that fly through the blue skies and the unique shapes of plants and water weeds.

The four pieces in the photograph(Fig.1) were works created over two walls of the artist’s atelier. The large horizontal work, second from right, is The Parakeet and the Mermaid. Matisse made these pieces while convalescing at home following major surgery for abdominal cancer. When cutting, Matisse did not place the paper on a table but rather lifted the paper in his left hand and moved the scissors easily like a seagull in flight. He handed the cut-out to an assistant who nailed it in the location designated by the artist with a hammer. Sometimes the assistant would climb on a step ladder to secure the cut-out. The colorful cut-outs decorated the wall, transforming his atelier into an oasis.

The exhibit is separated into two parts on the first and second floors. The first floor meticulously displays the works that led up to the cut-outs, contrasting them with pieces by other artists of the time as well as artists who were influenced by Matisse. The second floor shows the cut-outs and the works that evolved from the cut-outs including the print book “Jazz,” stained glass and costumes.

The Oasis of Matisse Until August 16, 2015

Museumplein 10
1071 DJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Mon-Sun 10:00-18:00 (Thurs till 22:00)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Exhibition: Van Gogh & Co.

Fig.1 Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait,
April - June 1887, oil on cardboard,
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo

The Kröller-Müller museum in Vincent van Gogh's native country of the Netherlands is currently showing the exhibition Van Gogh & Co., featuring around fifty paintings by Van Gogh from their collection. The exhibition also has paintings by Corot, Millet, and other pioneers, contemporaries, and artists who were influenced by Van Gogh, totaling one hundred and eight paintings.

From a young age, Van Gogh (fig. 1) stood in awe of many painters. He worked at the art dealer Goupil & Cie in The Hague, where he dealt with many artworks, could visit various museums, and purchase the works and art books that he took an interest in. When Van Gogh decided to pursue a career as a painter, he received education by Anton Mauve, a painter from the The Hague school; when he went to Paris the exchanges he had with young painters such as Gauguin and Bernard helped him polish his skills.

Van Gogh was captivated with the peasants that Millet painted, and made copies of works such as The Sower when he first began working as a painter. His work The Potato Eaters, which depicts peasants sharing a meal after their work, is representative of his early paintings. He created it combining the studies that he had made of peasants' faces. His still-lifes, too, were rooted in peasant life, showing vegetables like potatoes and onions, or worn-out worker's boots. In the still-life paintings, no figure of a peasant is ever directly featured, but we could say nonetheless that these are portraits of them, only from a different angle.

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with a Plate of Onions,
1889, oil on canvas, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
Within these same still-lifes, we can also perceive a frank reflection of Van Gogh's feelings, which makes them into a kind of self-portrait. As soon as he was released from the psychiatric hospital, the year after he cut off his ear, Van Gogh painted Still Life with a Plate of Onions (1889) (fig. 2). In it we see a household medical manual, which suggests he might have been worried about his physical condition after his release from hospital. We see the heavy smoker Van Gogh's pipe and tobacco, and the bottle of alcohol and the coffee, both of which he enjoyed daily. In the foreground is a letter, with a postmark dating from the end of 1888, on it the address of his brother Theo, the sender. Unfortunately, the letter itself has been lost. It is generally considered that Van Gogh's breakdown, leading to him cutting off his ear on the 23rd of December, 1888, was because his relationship with Gauguin broke down. However, some scholars argue that this lost letter, which informed him that his younger brother Theo was getting engaged, must also have been a trigger. Van Gogh must have felt upset that Theo, on whom Vincent was dependent both psychologically and financially, was to marry. He could no longer expect to rely on him as before. But in this painting, made soon after he left the hospital, we can sense the vitality springing from the newly sprouting onions. When he received that letter Van Gogh may have despaired of his life, but this painting communicates his recovery from that, and a positive attempt to take charge of his new life.

The exhibition Van Gogh & Co. will be on through September 27 (the museum is closed on Mondays).

Kröller-Müller Museum
Houtkampweg 6
6731 AW Otterlo
The Netherlands
Opening Hours:
Tuesday through Sunday, Holidays* 10:00—17:00(Sculpture Garden open until 16:30)
*Easter, Pentecost, April 27, May 5, December 23
Museum is closed on Mondays, January 1

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Velazquez Exhibition

Fig. 2 Diego Velazquez, Portrait du pape Innocent X,
1650, 140 x 200, oil on canvas, Rome, Galleria Doria
Pamphilj, © Amministrazione Doria Pamphilj srl

The 17th century is regarded as the Spanish Golden Age for painting. A leading artist of this era was Diego Velazquez who served in the royal court of Madrid. About a half of the works of the court painter Velazquez, including his masterpiece Las Meninas, are still today housed in the Museo Del Prado. The current retrospective at the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais is a comprehensive examination of his works, centered on the Prado collection, and including his celebrated portraits, mythological paintings and still lifes.

Velazquez was born in 1599 in Seville, Spain, and began studying painting at the age of 12 under the painter and art historian Francisco Pacheco. Velazquez quickly distinguished himself, and with the urging of Pacheco, headed for the capital of Madrid in 1622 with the aim of becoming a court painter. His early landscapes and religious paintings reveal an indirect influence of Caravaggio, but his style and technique were refined after he became a court artist in 1623. Exposure to the Venetian paintings of the royal collection and interactions with Rubens who visited royal household, as well as two trips to Italy on the advice of Rubens, prompted Velazquez to develop an innovative painting style that captured a precise visual impression through a broad touch of the brush.

His two visits to Italy brought great advancement in his works. During his first stay in 1630, Velazquez worked on his first landscape. Villa Medici, depicting the country house of the Medici family where the artist was staying, was a landscape drawn outdoors. The work is a rare example of painting out of doors before the 19th century. The artist’s expert brush captures the sunlight glimpsed through luxuriant leaves, the shadow of trees reflected on the building’s wall and the light that shifts quickly from the movement of the leaves in the wind. The fruits of his study of landscapes were incorporated in the backgrounds of the portraits Velazquez painted after his return to Spain. During this time, in addition to landscapes, Velazquez explored with intensity various other genres, including mythology paintings. The masterpiece Venus at her Mirror (fig.1) is the only existing nude by Velazquez and was an extremely rare subject for the strictly catholic regime of Spain at the time.

Fig. 1 Diego Velázquez, Vénus au miroir,
c. 1647-1651, oil on canvas, 122,5 x 177 cm,
London, the National Gallery, © The National Gallery

In 1650, during his second stay in Italy, Velazquez painted Portrait of Innocent X (fig. 2) of the absolute ruler of the Christian faith of the time. This graphic painting that delves into the inner realms of his subject is the best portrait by the artist celebrated in this genre.

The retrospective concludes with a self-portrait from the artist who painted so many others as a court painter. It is an impressive piece of work from which pensive eyes stare ahead quietly.

Velazquez Exhibition through July 13 (close Tuesdays and holidays).

Grand Palais
3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower
75008 Paris, France
Opening times:
Sun, Mon 10:00—20:00
Wed-Sat 10:00—22:00
Closed on Tuesday, 1 May

Friday, 27 March 2015

Chagall Restrospective

A retrospective of Chagall, who portrayed the varied objects of his love through poetic colors, is taking place at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. On exhibit are more than 200 pieces, ranging from a 1908 painting that Chagall made at the age of 21 to works of his final years, as well as stage costumes designed by the artist.

Fig.1 Marc Chagall, The Promenade, 1917-1918,
oil on canvas, State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
© Chagall ® SABAM Belgium 2015
Marc Chagall was born to Jewish parents in 1887 in the Russian village of Vitebsk (current day, in Belarus). After becoming interested in painting, he enrolled in the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts in St. Petersburg. There he came into contact with the new schools of art led by the French. Chagall’s focus shifted to the art center of Paris, and he decided to leave Russia.

The lively and urban city of Paris and his fellow artists living at the communal atelier La Ruche (the beehive), including Fernand Léger, Alexander Archipenko and Amadeo Modigliani, provided many themes and new motifs for Chagall, stimulating his creative ambitions. But Chagall could not forget his hometown of Vitebsk and continued to paint its landscapes (Fig. 1), his family and the people who lived there, as well as various motifs rooted in Jewish culture.

The current retrospective focuses on the relationship between Chagall and his Jewish family background and Jewish culture and traditions. Chagall was originally named Móyshe Shagál after Moses, the Jewish prophet from the Old Testament. He changed his name in Paris to Marc Chagall, as he is currently known.

Driven out of countries by world events such as the Russian Revolution and World War I, Chagall and his wife Bella moved between France, Russia and the United States. In 1941, Chagall fled from Nazi-occupied France to the United States.

Fig.2 Marc Chagall, Definitive Study for the Ceiling
of the Opéra Garnier,  Paris, 1963, gouache on paper,
glued on canvas. private collection
© Chagall ® SABAM Belgium 2015
Around the time that Chagall and his wife Bella arrived in the United States, invading Nazi German troops were obliterating Chagall’s hometown of Vitebsk. And three years later, his beloved Bella died suddenly. After the loss of his hometown to war and the death of his beloved wife, art became a place of escape from despair for Chagall. He delved into creating the stage sets and costumes for Léonide Massine’s ballet “Aleko” and ballet “The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky (music) and Gorge Balanchine (choreography). Chagall returned to Paris after World War II, and in 1960, Andre Malraux commissioned him to paint the ceiling of the Paris Opera. Chagall fulfilled with great success, this opportunity of a free and large-scale project (Fig.2).

The exhibit offers a chance to immerse oneself in the colorful world of Chagall who created with great vitality throughout his long life of 97 years.

Chagall Retrospective runs through June 28. (Museum closed Mondays and May 1st)
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Rue de la Régence 3 / Regentschapsstraat 3
1000 Brussels
Opening times:
Tue—Fri 10:00—17:00
Sat,Sun 11:00—18:00

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Frick Collection – Art Treasures from New York

Fig.1 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
(1780-1867), Portrait of Countess D'Haussonville;
d’Haussonville, 1845, Oil on canvas, 131,8 x 92,1 cm,
The Frick Collection, New York;
photo Michael Bodycomb
The Frick Collection exhibition, the first major show at the new Royal Dutch Shell Wing of the Mauritshuis that opened after two years of renovation, is on display from February 5 to May 8. The Frick Collection dates back to 1935, when the mansion of the industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1848-1919) was expanded and opened as an art museum to the public following his death, to display the works he had collected for more than forty years. The collection spans the extensive period of the 13th to 19th century and covers broad genres, including paintings, sketches, sculptures and furnishings.

Among the works on loan is an icon of the Frick Collection, Countess D’Haussonville (Fig. 1) by the French neoclassical master Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres. The portrait was painted in 1841 when Ingres had returned from his second stay in Italy and taken up a position at the French Academy. A woman in a pale blue dress stands amid luxurious furnishings. A red hair ornament creates a charming and youthful ambience. The superb depiction of her porcelain-smooth complexion and the lustrous satin of her dress make this a painting not to be missed.

Fig.2 John Constable (1776-1837), The White Horse,
1819, Oil on canvas, 131,4 x 188,3 cm, The Frick Collection,
New York; photo Michael Bodycomb
It is an extravagant pleasure to be able to view and contrast works from the Frick and Mauritshuis collections. For example, there is John Constable’s masterpiece The White Horse (Fig. 2) from the Frick, and Jacob van Ruisdael’s View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds from the Mauritshuis. Constable is a representative landscape painter of 19th century Britain while Ruisdael was a leader of the same genre in 17th century Holland. Both artists loved their homelands and expressed those feelings in their work as seen in these two paintings. One can sense the love with which they observed their lands by the way they capture the tranquil and sensitive light and peaceful mood of the countryside. Enjoying the works from both of these enthralling collections is highly recommended for visitors.

This is the first time that works of the Frick Collection are loaned overseas, making the exhibit a rare opportunity to see the paintings of artists not often housed in Dutch museums such as pieces by Cimbae, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Joshua Reynolds. They may be viewed alongside the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer from the Mauritshuis.

The Frick Collection until May 8.

Mauritshuis Museum
Plein 29
2511CS, Den Haag
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Mon      13:00—18:00
Tue, Wed, Fri-Sun 10:00—18:00
Thur      10:00—20:00

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Commemorating 125 Years after the Death of Van Gogh

The year 2015 marks 125 years since the death of Vincent van Gogh. Under the theme “125 Years of Inspiration,” Van Gogh’s homeland of the Netherlands is honoring the anniversary year with exhibitions in various cities that look back on the artist’s life and works and his influence on subsequent painters.

At the Keukenhof Park, famed for its tulips, Van Gogh’s self portrait will be reproduced with flowers, and his birthplace of Zundert will honor the anniversary at its flower parade. The cycling path that links Zundert, Nuenen – where he painted The Potato Eaters, and Etten where he lived, has been refurbished so visitors can leisurely enjoy the sites of Van Gogh’s paintings. On November 12, the cycling path created by the Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde was completed. Designed based on the image of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the stones embedded into the path emit light at night, creating a magical landscape.

Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, Arles,
January 1889, oil on canvas, 95 cm x 73 cm,
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Amid this nationwide fervor over the 125th year anniversary, when reviewing the life and works of Van Gogh one cannot overlook the Van Gogh Museum, which holds the world’s largest Van Gogh collection, and the Kröller-Müller Museum.

In anticipation of the anniversary, the
Van Gogh museum began a major new presentation of its exhibits from November 28, 2014. Van Gogh’s letters and an abundance of other primary sources along with valuable artifacts that were restored are displayed with the paintings, offering viewers a deeper understanding of the artist’s life and work. On September 25th, the exhibit “Munch: Van Gogh” will open. Both painters shared lives of hardships that had enormous influences on their works, and they are also linked by the fact that when Munch visited Paris, he was studying the works of Van Gogh. The exhibit offers a perception into the similarities and differences of the works born from the delicate sensibilities of the two artists.

From April 25th, the Kröller-Müller Museum presents the exhibit “Van Gogh & Co. Criss-crossing the collection.” About fifty pieces will be displayed, allowing visitors to explore the creativity of Van Gogh by comparing his works from the early to late years with those of his contemporaries.

More than forty Van Gogh events are planned in the Netherlands, with other programs to take place in France and Belgium. For further information, see the “Van Gogh Europe” webpage and go to the “Van Gogh 125” section (