Publishing a book is in part like throwing a bottled message into the sea. One such message, in a book by the Holocaust victim Charlotte Salomon that I brought out in 1981, was answered with a beautiful letter from a witness to the creation of Charlotte’s masterpiece. Schwartz is upset that the author of a big new book on the artist exploits that letter but ignores its writer.
In a fraught discussion about Rembrandt’s motivation for making so many self-portraits, the leading Rembrandt expert of the day, Ernst van de Wetering, let himself be misled by a faulty publication of 1887, uncritically recycled in 1906 and 1979, into making an incorrect argument to which he attaches fundamental importance.
Donations to this installment of the Schwartzlist will be used not only for the website but also as a contribution to Loekie and Gary’s golden anniversary present, a new television set. See below.
The summer exhibitions in the Rijksmuseum present two extremes of three-dimensional form. The somewhat brutalist geometric steel sculptures of Eduardo Chillida in the garden, and in the exhibition galleries the height of finesse, precious gold and silver objects that flirt with formlessness. Schwartz finds a common denominator.
For seventy years, Schwartz has been aware that he, with the rest of humanity, is in grave danger of being wiped out. He takes account of the record and reveals his solution to the most immediate threat.
The contributions of the Rembrandt Research Project to the study of Rembrandt paintings are countless and invaluable. In particular, the insistence of Ernst van de Wetering that the physical study of paintings be integrated into the practice of connoisseurship has changed the face of the field. However, inconsistencies in the six volumes of its Corpus of Rembrandt paintings leave us in uncertainty concerning its reconstruction of Rembrandt’s oeuvre. Schwartz puts his finger on a possible re-attribution that should be forthcoming, but isn’t.
Continue reading “364 The transparent connoisseur 5: Keeping the Rembrandt Research Project to its word”
“Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull” was Gary Schwartz’s first publication as an art historian. He looks back on how it came into being and what it meant in his life. Schwartz would like to think of the Dutch- and Flemish-speaking low countries as one culture, but circumstances keep intruding on this ideal image. Circumstances such as the lives and posterities of Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn.
Mutual relations among Rembrandt specialists are not always as cordial as they might be. It takes understanding and diplomacy to stay on good terms with everyone in the field. In that I have not been universally successful. One colleague with whom I have always got on well, differences not aside but included, is Christopher Brown. This is more to his credit than to mine. But I admire him for much more than that. Continue reading “362 Work for a grown man”
Some of the best realist painters of the twentieth century were Dutch. If few art lovers outside the Netherlands have heard of them, this is because the Netherlands has proven unable to launch major reputations for artists who stayed at home and did not work in international groups like De Stijl or Cobra. Schwartz delves into the issue, and is held up midway by the tragic choices of the best of the Dutch realists, Pyke Koch.
Continue reading “361 Between the wars”
A German art critic-editor and a German publisher have brought out one of the main ego documents of twentieth-century art in England and the US. Schwartz’s personal comments on and associations evoked by R.B. Kitaj’s outrageous Confessions of an old Jewish painter.
Continue reading “360 Kitaj lets it all hang out”
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem exercises a bewitching lure over Jews, Muslims and Christians. Not even the famously sober Dutch Calvinists could escape its spell. At least four seventeenth-century churches in the Republic were identified in form with the Temple. So was the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. As similar as these features of the churches and the synagogue may look, the meanings they convey are antithetical.