Prevailing opinion has it that Rembrandt drew far fewer drawings than the 1500 in the standard catalogue of Otto Benesch, and that he almost never used drawings to prepare his compositions. Schwartz posits the opposite: that Rembrandt drew far more than 1500 drawings and that it was his normal practice to use drawings – most of them now lost – in the preparation of his etchings and paintings. Continue reading “302 Did Rembrandt really not use drawings for his paintings and etchings?”
The first exhibition on the Arabian peninsula of original work by Rembrandt took place in Muscat, Oman, from 19 August to 19 September 2009. Schwartz made a brief film on Rembrandt and Amsterdam to introduce the master to the Omanis. He attended the opening and the first week of the show. His impressions.
Is it more harmful for a museum item to be crated and shipped off to a loan exhibition or left hanging in its own gallery or storage facility? Do we see the scars of damage once they have been repaired? Schwartz answers these questions as he takes leave of CODART, the network organization for museum curators of Dutch and Flemish art he thought up and worked for for 12 years.
Continue reading “297 Art for Ronni Baer’s grandchildren”
The recently closed exhibition Images of Erasmus at the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam rightly introduced Hieronymus Bosch into Erasmus’s sphere. Schwartz reveals unsuspected truths – well, at least possible truths – about the two of them.
Continue reading “295 The humanist meets the exorcist”
There are times when the behavior of an artist or a museum can fill you with disgust. Covered by the kneejerk respect for art displayed by society, they betray artistic and moral principles that you try to live by. What if anything do you do about it? Schwartz wrestles uncomfortably with the problem.
Continue reading “294 L’art, c’est moi”
One in so many Western works of art contains an image of a person we would call black. The phenomenon attracts relatively little attention in art history. The Menil Foundation went after it seriously, in a project now inherited by the Warburg Institute. An exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam offers a sanitized view of the black in Dutch and Flemish art.
Continue reading “291 Image of the beautiful black”
The idea that Greek sculpture was once colored is easier to deal with than real-life reconstructions of what it looked like. For some unfathomed reason, Schwartz prefers the original polychromy of Gothic statues but not of Greek and Roman ones.
Continue reading “289 Mama, (don’t) take my polychrome away”
To test the extent to which Iraq would have become a model Middle Eastern democracy by the year 2005, well into the era of neocon nirvana, in 2003 Schwartz and his artist buddy Joseph Semah plan to stage a Purim Play in Baghdad in March 2005. Happy holiday. Continue reading “288 A missed appointment in Baghdad”
The Rijksmuseum has published the first volume in a series of scholarly catalogues of its collection of Dutch paintings of the 17th century. The two books, one of text and comparative illustrations, the other of color plates, are not only a model of collection catalogues, they are also an unguarded kaleidoscopic self-portrait of Dutch society in the early years of the Republic. Schwartz is lyrical.
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.