221 Leonardo’s Last Supper and my first breakfast in Milan

To be creative is to do something for the first time. The chance of doing something worthwhile for the first time and doing it right is about the same as the chance of shooting a hole in one the first time one picks up a golf club. On the basis of this insight, Schwartz sketches a minor theory of creativity. Continue reading “221 Leonardo’s Last Supper and my first breakfast in Milan”

220 Att: Medy van der Laan

Dutch government subsidies for the arts are largely bundled in a single 4-year cycle called the Cultuurnota (Cultural Policy Document). After the closing of application for the Cultuurnota 2005-2008, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science changed the criteria for awards. A new distinction was drawn between "producing" and "supporting" institutions, with the latter being disadvantaged. Schwartz objects and argues for a postponement of the revision of the Cultuurnota until after 2008. Continue reading “220 Att: Medy van der Laan”

219 Rembrandt as eyewitness

The papers are full of long stories on a short letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors, Harvard neurobiologists, claim that his self-portraits contain certain evidence that Rembrandt was wall-eyed and that this had consequences for his artistry. Schwartz begs to differ. The scientists simply ignore a mass of material in which no such aberration is visible, and they fail to notice that similar effects as they observe in Rembrandt portraits can also be seen in self-portaits by others. Continue reading “219 Rembrandt as eyewitness”

216 The Olympics of 1777

Fleeing the offensive hypocrisy of the Olympics, Schwartz and Loekie travel to Wörlitz in Saxony-Anhalt, to the miraculous 18th-century Garden Kingdom of Prince Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817). There they discover that Wörlitz is touted as the place where the Olympic Games were first revived, in the 1770s. They keep their cool, and are rewarded, when they find the mysterious site, with an unforgettable experience.


Continue reading “216 The Olympics of 1777”

215 A Yugoslav Goudstikker in The Hague

The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is showing a first-rate selection of modern French and Serbian art from the National Museum in Belgrade. Schwartz notes that more two-thirds of the displays come from the collection of the Jewish art dealer Erich Chlomovitch, who was killed by the Nazis. His heirs have never been recompensed for the 429 valuable items that have been in the museum for over 50 years. Schwartz is reminded of the case of the Dutch Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker. Continue reading “215 A Yugoslav Goudstikker in The Hague”

214 Five cities and five pillars

At an exhibition in Amsterdam titled Urban Islam, the life styles and attitudes toward religion of young Muslims from around the world are presented with short films and attributes from daily life. Their real choices have less to do with faith than with how to dress. They seem more secular than young Americans. Can this be right? Continue reading “214 Five cities and five pillars”

213 Walk IV

In 1998, for an exhibition in Amsterdam and Paris, a team of art historians and archivists retraced Rembrandt’s footsteps in six walks in and around Amsterdam. Following the trajectory of Walk IV, on the Amstel River, Schwartz realizes that Rembrandt’s deepest wish was to have Holland all for himself. Continue reading “213 Walk IV”

Montias in the Annales

The economist who taught the art historians a thing or two about art. Michael Montias brought about a minor revolution in art studies. He might however have brought in a bit more bathwater that’s good for the baby. Continue reading “Montias in the Annales”