My painting in a museum

Standard

Sounds cool, right? My painting in a museum. It’s something a lot of artists will be very excited about, but in my case it’s not such a big deal.
Here’s how: I work at the Westfries museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands, as an educator. So I’m the museum’s host when schools visit and I design the holiday’s programs for children.
For this summer holiday I chose “color” as a theme for all of the activities in the museum. And in one of the museum’s rooms we got a lot of Delfts blauw, or Delfts blue art, so I wanted to design an activity on different shades of blue.
And it came out to become very simple: we are going to display a painting, created in different shades of blue, placed on a magnetic board, with magnets in different shades of blue, provided next to it. The blue magnets are to be placed (nu the kids) somewhere in the painting on the same shade of blue.
Only: where to get such a painting? Well,.. I can create it myself, of course! Within a few hours I painted Hoorn’s most famous ship in blue, while I usually prefer to spend months on one painting.

image

The result is for educational purposes only, there need’nt to be anything aesthetic about it, so I guess I can say I mainly fulfilled my job as educator, while the artist in me had some fun too! And:.. it’ll be my first painting in a museum! Funny, right?

image

Escher as mentor

Standard

Escher is famous for his impossible constructions and transformation prints. Most people know his ‘tower of Babel’, ‘Belvedere’, ‘day and night’, ‘drawing hands’, ‘relativity’ and many, many more. All of them are to be admired in the former palace of the Dutch queen Emma in the center of the Hague. And that’s where I went one weekend in 2014.

It not only was delightful to watch those drawings, litho’s and woodcuts, it also was educational. Escher not only is a master of surreal images, he also displays a very excellent study of perspective and symmetry. His works are really geometrically fabulous.

Remembering some difficult angles for drawing, I especially was interested in Escher’s top down perspective.

rome tekeningIn Rome I once made a drawing, sitting in castel st. Angelo, looking down on the st. Peter’s basilica of the Vatican. I planned to draw all the roofs, with the basilica in the middle. But I got lost due to the huge amount of roofs.Esscher 01

Escher had dealt with this problem. His woodcut ‘roofs’ is a very good example of how I would have drawn my view from castel st. Angelo. How did he do that?

His drawing ‘Atrani’ (in the left circle below) shows us how. He had drawn lines on the sketch, to make sure everything had the right proportion. His litho ‘Castrovalva’ also reveils a trick (in the right circle below). This trick actually can only be noticed when you place the litho next to a photograph of the original view. You will note that Escher left out some of the houses. I bet the  houses were indistinguishable due to their quantity, so drawing veraciously would not make such a beautiful litho.

I’m planning to apply these lessons from Escher one day. I really would want to go back to Rome to redo the drawing. I hope that day will come before I grow too old to hold a pencil. 😀 Esscher 07

Art in Prague

Standard

Oh my gosh! It really has been a loooong while since my last post! But I got a good reason for being absent the past 3 months: I graduated! (*taking a bow and receiving the congratulations with a big ‘thank you’*) And after I graduated I enjoyed my holiday big time. But now I’m back, and I got a lot of art-talk to share with you.

dancing buildingMy boyfriend and I visited Prague this summer. Prague is very, very cool. It’s a beautiful city, but I was a bit worried about the amount of visible art in Prague. When we were planning our holiday, I hit a certain blogpost telling me that, in Prague, I only could find art in galleries. The blogpost provided its readers a list of great galleries, which I did not copy. *sigh* Later, when I was in search of the blogpost, I couldn’t find the blogpost anymore, so I was even more worried I would face a holiday without art,..

Of course, Prague’s famous for its architecture. The center city of Prague has beautiful buildings, built in the styles of different centuries. The most famous building will probably be the dancing building, which is built in the nineties of the nineteenth century. But you also can visit the Prague castle, which is built in the ninth century. I like architecture, but I like paintings an awful lot more, so my search for painted art was begun as soon as I arrived in the Chech Republic.

CAM00872

The first day in Prague we just walked through the city; we went up a hill and visited the National Museum. Not much art there; only a lot of history, (which I also like!) and a great view. The second day we went to the Prague castle, where I found the first paintings in the st George’s basilica. It was a painting of the assumption of Mary, painted by an unknown painter. If you havent seen art for a while, this is a very nice painting; it shows skilled labour. But dispite the skilled labour, I can’t deny the fact that it still is a very average painting, just like the paintings I found in the old royal palace. The royal palace had paintings of the noblesmen and -women of Prague’s history. The painting of Maria Eleonora of Mantua was the most remarkable, mainly because her appearance didn’t match with my personal idea of beauty. CAM00871

The third day, suddenly, I found a museum! We had to travel a long while to get there, for it was in the northern part of town, but this museum was amazing! It was called Veletržní Palace and is the home of contemporary and modern art in Prague. Not only was I able to see the work of great Chech artists like Kupka and Mucha, they also displayed a huge amount of French art. I really enjoyed the large collection of Picasso paintings. The oldest Picasso in the Veletržní Palace is from 1906, and the most recent Picasso is from 1922. I took a picture of “violin, glass, pipe and anchor: souvenir of le havre” with “the port of Cadaqués” in the background. These paintings are respectively from 1912 and 1910. I especially liked ‘souvenir‘ very much, mainly because of the combination of color and words / letters. It is brown, except for the blue and yellow parts in the top. I love those colourful accents!

The big Chech surprise was Mucha. He got my attention in the ‘normal’ exhibition with a painting which displays ultimate tragedy ‘controlled’ by a serene woman in white in the center of the painting. The contrast of the serene woman and the tragedy is something I like. Mucha is primarely famous for his Slav epic, this are 20 monumental paintings telling the story of the Slavic people, and his stained glass window in the st Vitus cathedral inside Prague castle. In the pictures below you’ll see the Mucha ‘tragedy’-painting (don’t know the actual name), followed by Picasso and Renato Guttoso. Guttoso is a Chech painter from the 20th century and I really liked the painting because of the use of colour and the emotions the painting displays. Enjoy!

Oh, and by the way: the galleries in Prague are also pretty cool! Well; except for the fact that galleries are, in fact, shops, and are hosted by sales-girls instead of a museum guide.CAM00877CAM00879CAM00882

 

The Cobra experience

Standard

What do you do when it is the Dutch national museum weekend? You visit a museum of course! My boyfriend and I both never went to the Cobra museum: for both of us actually a remarkable fact. Me; because, for 5 years I studied quite near the museum, him; for he’s a Karel Appel fan. So it was time to set things right; we went to the Cobra,..

ImageSince I’ve never been to the Cobra before, I actually can’t tell a thing about the ‘normal’ collection. The normal collection probably will be cool, but the collection today was awesome, for the Cobra got more than 44 abstract masterpieces on loan from the Guggenheim, New York!

Because it was such a rare opportunity to see the paintings from the Guggenheim, this time I decided I wanted to observe art from a different perspective. Different from the way I usually observe art. For I usually first read the additional information, before I look at the work of art. I’m a cognitive viewer. I want to know where to look at, I want to know who painted it, why he painted it, I want to know how he painted it and I want to know the philosophy behind the painting. And lately, I got the feeling this cognitive viewing is not quite how art should be viewed. Also, if I would enter the Cobra Museum with this intention, I probably would get dissapointed, for cobra-art is meant to be spontaneous; deprived of any intellectual meaning.So this time, I wanted to view the artifacts from my own perspective; free from the urge to know, in order to be able to feel the art.

Did I succeed? Not quite. When I was watching this abstract statue, lots of things went through my mind. For I actually didn’t think of it as abstract. For me, it was quite obvious it resembled a succulent. ImageBut it turned out it didn’t. As soon as I turned my head to read the additional information and the name of the artifact, I found out it was called ‘Cock’ (rooster in French). I couldn’t help feeling a bit baffled. I had the intention to experience art better by not-knowing, but right now I experienced art better by knowing it’s name! For if you look at it, knowing it resembles a rooster, the shape of the artifact touches you, while it didn’t while you thought it was a succulent. Or well,.. I could just as well be the only one who had this weird experience, of course.

ImageBut while sometimes reading the additional information helps me experience the artwork better, I naturally could predict this would not work at all times. I had the weirdest experience today when I encountered this painting: Untitled from Cy Twombly. I like modern art. I like abstract art, I like looking at it and experience the clash between my own interpretation and the interpretation of the artist,.. Or the bewilderment when I find out that the artist had no goal or purpose whatsoever by creating the artwork. But this was weird. I just had to look at the accompanying text, for I couldn’t interpret this painting in any way.

But I wish I didn’t read the information. The additional text told me this was pure sex, complicated by the hermetic language of numbers and charts. I mean;… no words,.. I’m totally speechless. Sex? This? I guess this time I really should not have read any information, this time I really got punished for not following my own plan.

Meet the master of light

Standard

ImageDelft. Famous for its Delft’s blue porcelain and Vermeer. So when I visited Delft last weekend, I naturally went to the Vermeer Center. And yes, the name of the museum already suggests it’s not the house of Vermeer, unfortunately. The center is located about 100 metres from the place Vermeer’s house was located. Past tense; the house is razed, therefore tourists have to visit a center instead of a Vermeer’s house. But, to compensate the loss, they chose a very good location for the center, which is located in the building of the St. Luke’s guild. (see picture above) This used to be the guild for Delft’s artists and artisans. In his time, Vermeer was head of this guild.

Before I entered the Vermeer Center, I knew a bit about Vermeer. For instance, I knew that the 37 paintings of Vermeer are divided between Europe and America. 7 of them are in the Netherlands, but none of them is in Delft. So what we were about to see were reproductions of Vermeer’s paintings. I was curious if observing prints would satisfy me. I was curious how the prints were presented and what other information and objects were shown, for all I know about Vermeer is that there is little to know.

ImageVermeer is a mystery man, people nowadays know little about his life. We know where he lived, we know about his paintings, we know he got 15 children, of which 4 died, but we don’t know about his mentor, for example. This question got it’s own special place in the museum. In the picture above you can see the possible mentors of Vermeer. But he also could have had no mentor at all, perhaps he was a self-taught-man.

ImageThe Vermeer Center displays all of the 37 paintings in print, in actual size. It was nice to see them all brought together in one room, but I also have a book in which all of the paintings are collected, and I actually did not prefer these prints over the book. So what did the museum offer, next to the prints? Well; no more then the information I was able to read in the book I just mentioned, but a book takes a lot more time to go through than a museum, so I guess the museum basically was a time-saver, compared to the book. It gave information on 17th century Delft, on Vermeer’s paintings, on Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, (Vermeer’s curator,) on Vermeer’s techniques and hidden messages.

The center said Vermeer used symbolism in his paintings. On most of the paintings of Vermeer are women. When they are working, the message is clear; working is a virtue. But when they aren’t, most of the time Vermeer painted symbols next to the not-working women to signify vice. Most of the time this vice was a forbidden love, referred to by music instruments, wine or letters.

They also said that Vermeer had studied the effects of lights extremely well, and therefore he is to be called the master of light. One example, and in my opinion the best example, are the highlights. If you look close to the paintings of Vermeer, he used an innumerable amount of white dots to highlight (and revive) objects in his paintings. The best example is Vermeers view of Delft; the buildings and the boat is loaded with white dots, and it works; it completes the painting.

ImageThe fact that Vermeer produced so little paintings, makes us think he spent a long time thinking on the techniques, perspective, and symbolism in his paintings. But still, we do know so little about the guy. I wonder; perhaps he just copied his environment with a rare precision, and just painted what he saw, without thinking too much about it. Maybe he just liked what he saw and didn’t do anything to manipulate the light,..

But maybe he did, and if he did, he just could be the master of light indeed.

learning in the museum

Standard

I’m a student. I’ve been a student the past 7 years, and I wish I could remain a student for the next 7 years, but unfortunately I have to finish off and start earning money. Therefore I hope my final diploma will give me the possibility to earn a job as a teacher. I’m learning to become a teacher in religion, but during this education I got the opportunity to learn some tricks and skills on arts and cultural education as well.

Today my arts and cultural education class went on a field trip. Yay!! Finally; I got the chance to learn how arts and cultural education is put in practice!

We payed a visit to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and we got an assignment as soon as we got there. This assignment concerned the visible thinking strategies from Perkins and dialogical learning from Wegerif. This meant that we had to choose two objects in the museum, and follow the instructions in the assignment.

Chosing an object was quite difficult. The object concerning the assignment on visible thinking strategies had to be something appealing to me. The object concerning dialogical learning had to be connected to religion, since I’m learning to become a teacher in religion.

I chose the following objects:

ImageImageYou probably recognize at least one; right? Kandinsky. The first one is a picture taken by Dan Zollmann. The Jewish Historical Museum had an exposition of both paintings of Kandinsky and photo’s of Dan Zollmann.

What was the assignment?

I chose Kandinsky to fulfill the assignment on visible thinking strategies. The first instruction was to describe the painting. But before I started describing the painting, I read the information accompanying the painting. It said that the circle represents a synthesis of the greatest oppositions: concentrism and excentrism. ImageSo I imagined Kandinsky was trying to represent totality. A circle is total. It’s enduring; no beginning, no end. Next to the circle, Kandinsky used every imaginable color and presented every imaginable shape. I figured he wanted us to see it ALL; just evertyghing. And I am used to interpret ‘everything’ as God. God is everything, right? At least I think God can be seen as a synthesis of the greatest oppositions. So maybe Kandinsky wanted to represent God. Just maybe. And since the assignment didn’t order us to be correct, and just told us to give our own impression, I stick to this conclusion.

The next question concerning the visible thinking strategies was: If this object was in the middle of a story, what would be the preceding picture, and what would be the subsequent picture? I again consulted the accompanying information: it told me the name of the painting was: Yellow Center. So I figured the preceding picture would be the same painting with a white center, for if the painting would refer to God, God needs the be pure, at least at the start. The subsequent picture would be called ‘black center’, because black represents all the colors. It could only be black because it is the sum of everything, it would be the final resolution. It’s like the black square of Malevich, which also represent the whole of all.  (at least, that’s what I thought)

ImageThe last question on visible thinking strategies was to connect this painting with any other object in the museum. So I started my search for any other object which also could represent God. And I found Baruch de Spinoza. No, he’s no god. But he too was in search for God and created a philosophy on pantheïsm: everything IS God. I thought this was the ultimate link with my interpretation of ‘yellow center’.

Next was the assignment on dialogical learning. You noticed I chose a photo of Jewish boys at a candy machine. I had to formulate a hypothesis based on this photo, this hypothesis was meant to evoke questions; a dialogue. My hypothesis was: These are religious boys, who have their first encounter with modern temptation. And yes; this hypothesis evokes questions, for; are they really religious? Is it really the first encounter? Are they tempted by the candy, or the machine? Etcetra.

ImageI learned a new approach towards art. I learned that a real art connoisseur does not read the information accompanied by the object. He thinks freely; I just partly did that. But it sure was fun and I definitely will use this approach the next time I take my son to a museum. I presume he will start loving visiting museums.

Eye candy

Standard

It’s a rainy afternoon In 2014
The city…geez, it’s been 6 years!

Traveling for almost 2 hours, to end up in a rainy city I remembered as beautiful. I convinced my boyfriend to go to Arnhem: a city in the east of the Netherlands. I hold sweet memories of the parc and the night life. It was the home of my little sister: the city was an escape from the west part of the country, where I was born and raised. I never went there for sightseeing though, but, relying on my memories, I figured the city would make a lovely citytrip.

But, although the city has some beautiful buildings, we did not find any big church or other important points of interest. Maybe we put too little effort in our search,.. but it was raining,.. and cold,.. So after we payed a visit too all of the shops (which weren’t many), my boyfriend wanted to go home. Luckily I was able to convince him to pay a visit, at least, to one of Arnhems museums.

So we went to MMKA: Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem (Museum for Modern Art Arnhem). It was close to the center of the city; a 600 metres walk; according the signs. But as we were walking through the cold rain, we had the experience it was over 1000 metres away from the city center. I am pretty sure we both had the same thought; the museum better be worth it,…

Museum_Moderne_Kunst_ArnhemWe unfortunately didn’t take a picture of the 19th century building and garden. The picture you see is from the website: http://www.mijngelderland.nl You can see the building is small, but beautiful. The garden holds several pieces of art. The ‘titties-mountain’ was the most prominent element in the garden. It was a pile of balloons, who all had nipples; a mountain of titties,.. so to say. We didn’t go check the name of artist of that piece though,.. I bet the garden can be very relaxing to walk through,.. since it has an amazing view over the river,.. but,.. well,.. rain,… still,…

The museum is about modern art, but since modern art is a very broad concept, we were very curious what kind of modern art we were about to see. The entrance of the museum didn’t give any cue. Neither did the entrance ticket, and we were not given any folder with information at the pay desk. I guess we were expected to find out for ourselves. (Or just visit the website, perhaps)

It was realism, most of it. When you enter the first hall, you are face to face with the precursors of 1890 – 1925. And at the end of your tour through the museum, you will be able to observe the representative art from 1985 till present. A chronological tour; and it is just so typical of me to like that. The museum presents the paintings in sub-collections, based on the date of creation, and in every sub-collection they highlight two or more artists.

I spent a long time gazing at the paintings of Dick Ket. His paintings were part of the fist sub-collection: 1890 – 1925. His lifestory was most interesting: he never left the house, and therefore only painted stuff he had easy access to: himself,and  glasses and cups he found in his kitchen. I had the overall idea he was a very funny guy; his paintings had a slight sense of humor I liked. If you want to see some of his paintings, (and other paintings of the museum) check this blog (it’s dutch, but the author mainly displays photographs): http://www.vd-linden.nl/museum-blog/museum-arnhem/

After Dick Ket, my eye was attracted to a painting from Hendrik Valk. This painting belonged to the second sub-collection: 1925 – 1960. On the picture you experience some kind of tension in the painting. It seems like nothing much is happening in the painting. ArnhemIt’s just a mirror, half a face and a wajong-doll. But because you only see half a face; a lot happens. To me at least. I had the urge to create paintings with the same ‘feel’. (I created one, about a year ago,..) Meeting Hendrik Valk was like meeting my new mentor. I need to know more about his philosophy and work. Luckily, the museum, showed more paintings from him, for example; a plate with fish. Nothing special at first sight,.. till you see half a face, again, sniffing the smell of the fish. Amazing!

The last artists I want to mention belong to the last sub-collection: 1985 – present. One of them was Anya Janssen: she had painted a large painting of a boy who resembled my son’s image in a stunning way. I couldn’t take my eyes of the painting, which was called Rites of Passage 2. Not only did she create a wonderful likeness of my son’s image, she also is a great artist. You just have to check her website!

The second artist who caught my attention will remain anonymous. I really tried hard to remember her name, and I even tried harder to rediscover her name via google. But it was ineffectual. Her paintings were striking because of the simplicity and the joyful childishness. They were bright in color and were partly applied with doodle art. Beautiful in all it’s simplicity and vivacity.

So, yes; the museum was worth a visit. It was worth walking through the cold rain. As small as the museum was, it contained over 100 pieces of wonderful art, and I loved every single one of them.