Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rijksmuseum habite la Pinacothèque de Paris

Last time I was in the Pinacothèque de Paris, only 3 years old galery, it was in January 2008 when I saw a magnificent and extensive collection of paintings by Chaim Soutine. This time it's The Dutch Golden Age [17th century], a collection which rarely travels away from Amsterdam.

If you can possibly go, please do see it before its closing (February 7, 2010). 

First name that comes to mind as far as the Dutch School goes is definitely that of Rembrandt.  Yes, those surgically mastered portraits with a meticulous sense for unveiling the character of ordinary people through the details of the contours of their faces, their wrinkles and the chin position, distances between the cheeks and between the eyebags and eyebrows etc,  the accessories which not only uncode the world they lived in, the way they were, but also mirror their inner-selves. Each portrait tells the story...
That being said, Rembrandt's notorious religiousness is visible everywhere in his work, which is most probably the reason #1 why his paintings do not resonate with me in spite of me being constantly in awe when in front of any of his paintings.

The Dutch 17th century School of paintings is not only Rembrandt though. It is incredibly rich. Some painters -astonishingly avantgarde for their time- are less known but more fitting with me; see for example van der Schoor or Saenredam! And then there is one of the all time greatest to me: Johannes Vermeer. I won't go into the details about his life and his work. I'll just say that the guy lived only 43 years in Delft  (1632 - 1675), made the most fabulous imprint in the history of Art, which hélas-hélas became famous only 2 century after his death [it was a Frenchman Etienne Thoré who re-discovered Vermeer in 1866] when his sens for spatial dramaturgy and its correlation with the subject of his paintings were passionately studied to irreversibly inspire the impressionists, and thus art of the 20th century...

Why do I talk about that? Because at the end of this exhibition you may see one of his most outstanding masterpieces, "The Love Letter".

Do go and see it, contemplate a little bit, and then talk to someone who saw it too.  It's a shocking realization that 5 of us perceived it so differently from one another.  To create such a delicious ambiguity with such a remarkable simplicity of expression, that's what I call a genius!

What is happening in this painting? What was happening just before and right after that moment in space and time?
Enjoy :)

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