“Here’s not looking at you, kid: some literary uses of Vermeer”

Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.

March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)

Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)

286 Maxima was right

Tired of self-righteous pronouncements on the hot subject of Dutch national identity, Schwartz looks for a way of quantifying the subject. Statistics comparing Dutch attitudes toward Europe with those of other Europeans provide revealing results. For one thing, the Dutch turn out to be the most opinionated populace in this part of the world. But despite themselves, they do have their saving graces.


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284 Being where?

The exhibitions that take place in Kassel every five years (initially four) since 1955 under the name documenta have a powerful founding myth. They were initiated in response to two forms of totalitarianism: they rehabilitated German artists who had been banned by the Nazis as “degenerate” and they showed up the repressive cultural policies of Communism by flaunting daring Free World art. A powerful myth indeed, but is it true? The yeses and the nos.


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281 The Rembrandt riots

No one who has been educated under the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran has heard of Rembrandt, according to research carried out by Schwartz in Shiraz, Tehran and Isfahan. Being kept in the dark not only about him but about Western culture in general adds to the discontent of the Iranians, who nonetheless treated Schwartz to an exclusive, tourist-free introduction to some of their greatest cities and monuments.


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279 No thanks for the memory

The commemoration of war victims provides a measure of closure for the pain of war. It may not feel that way, but it forms an important part of war itself. Rather than eliminating memorial days, Schwartz argues for the extension of mourning to cover all victims of war, down to enemy, civilian and psychological casualties. Such a practice would aggravate rather than ease the emotional burden of war, bringing it closer to the point where it becomes unbearable.


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153 Exception is the rule

This morning I picked up a few rolls of film I shot in the past few weeks. The photos were taken in Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Amsterdam, Moscow and Archangelskoye. What’s the use of pretending that I am together enough to write a normal column? I don’t have the distance. The distance has me. The best I can do is ponder the most memorable things I saw in each place.


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